CUPE uses court ruling to push feds to tighten airline passenger safety rules

Federal Court of Appeal found Transport Canada decision to increase passenger-to-attendant ratio compromised safety
By The Canadian Press
||Last Updated: 08/15/2017
A person holds a flag with the logo of the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE), which represents flight attendants from Sunwing Airlines and Air Canada, during a protest about labour disputes at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

OTTAWA (CP) -- A national union representing thousands of flight attendants is using a recent court ruling to push the federal government to tighten airline passenger safety rules.

A Federal Court of Appeal judge ruled last week that Transport Canada couldn't have reasonably concluded that passenger or crew safety wasn't compromised when it allowed Sunwing Airlines to increase the ratio of passengers to flight attendants on its aircraft.

The agency's 2013 decision to allow one attendant for every 50 passengers instead of 40 came despite the airline failing three evacuation tests under the new system.

The ruling also says the airline provided the government with a cursory risk assessment that contained little or no evidence to support its conclusions that safety was not compromised.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which took the government to court over the Sunwing decision, says the Liberal government should force all airlines to use the lower ratio of passengers to crew to promote safety.

CUPE national president Mark Hancock says the ruling should be a major wake-up call for Transport Canada to put the safety of passengers and crew before any other considerations.

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