Dr. Lukács goes to Ottawa (op-ed)

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

 

Yesterday, Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, went to Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa to present his arguments in the case Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (SCC case summary & factums). Dr. Lukács is a respondent for this case because he won in the Federal Court of Appeal (CBC news) in September 2016. And then Delta won the right to appeal that FCA ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2017. (note: you can watch the hearing webcast video archive (~3 hours) to get a closer look.)

As Dr. Lukács put it in the 2016 CBC news interview,

“The underlying issue is, can you stand up for your neighbour? For the weak? For those who may already be disadvantaged in some way in society?

I first interviewed Dr. Lukács in August 2013 for the video report and article “Halifax mathematician gets bumped Air Canada passengers $200, $400, or $800 compensation“. During this 4+ years, I’m still amazed that a regular Canadian non-lawyer (math professor/researcher by training) has volunteered so much of his free time in helping others. And sometimes even risking being sued (and actually being) by airlines which have teams of lawyers and money.

To me, it was great to be able to video interview Dr. Lukács right inside the Supreme Court gown room where lawyers prepare their formal court attires. At the end of the hearing yesterday, it was nice to see lawyers from both sides and Dr. Lukács shook hands. I believe parties from both sides can violently disagree with each others’ ideas and submissions but it is nice to be civil after arguments are heard.

Over four years later, I still find the following 2013 answers given by Dr. Lukács very illuminating and insightful of why he spend so much of his free time in helping the Canadian flying public,

“Upon hearing the interviewer suggesting this delay compensation [$200, $400, $800 from Air Canada] should be named after Lukács, similar to mathematical theorems were named after Euclid or Gauss, Lukács paused to think for a moment and then thoughtfully insisted that,

“… it doesn’t matter where it was me or somebody else who got those [air passenger] rights. What is important [is] that those rights are put in place. And that people will now have better treatment. It doesn’t matter it was me, or my neighbour, or my friend or you, or that person in another city who made those changes. For me, it’s a question of I’ve learned enough about airlines to know that something are just wrong and against the law. And when I happened to see that, like in the case of what happened in Ottawa airport, I cannot just walk by and do nothing. I feel a responsibility.

Knowledge gives some responsibility. When you know that something is wrong, and you have quite a good idea of how to fix it, that does impose on you some level of moral responsibility, social responsibility. And so the issue of air passenger rights needs a face in Canada. I don’t see myself as a full-time passenger rights advocate, I am a mathematician after all. But certainly, I know that I am able to bring, through the agency, to the Canadian public some prospectives & arguments that benefit everybody. So I do it.””

Concluding thoughts

For years, I’ve gained inspirations from this one particular quote I LOVE“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead.

Seeing what Dr. Lukács has been trying to achieve by himself, it seems to me we sometimes doesn’t even need “a small group … people“. At times, all we need is one person to try to make a difference for the better in our increasingly perilous world. Do what each of us can, in the best way we know how. Success is never guaranteed but we and no one else can blame ourselves after we try the hardest we can.

P.S. Have a watch again of the action inside the Supreme Court yesterday.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Questions during Supreme Court case with Delta

P.P.S. I’ve always found the political comedy-drama “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“, a film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, insightful and illuminating. As I get older, I find I’m not naive enough to ignore the bad but I’m more willing & eager to look for the good each and everyone of us can do in our own area of interest and competence.

There is no reason you or I can’t be our own “Mr. Smith”, “Dr. Lukács”, … and going to our own “Washington”, “Ottawa”, … which to me stands for ideals we strive to achieve.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Speech

P.P.P.S. Speaking about theorems being named after mathematicians, I still hope Dr. Lukács’ Air Passenger Rights work won’t slow down his mathematics research as I hope to see a math theorem bearing his name one of these days.

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Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács – Supreme Court of Canada hearing webcast video archive

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

Supreme Court of Canada has made the hearing webcast video archive (all ~3 hours) of Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (summary, parties, factums) – available to watch online.

Also have a watch (with video) of my previous reports
* “Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview post “Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács” Supreme Court case oral arguments
* “Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview in advance of Supreme Court case with Delta Air Lines


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview post “Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács” Supreme Court case oral arguments

Wednesday, 4 October, 2017

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview at Supreme Court post Dr. Gábor Lukács' oral arguments - thumbnail

Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, presented his oral arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada for the first time. Have a watch of a video clip of Justice Russell Brown asking Dr. Gábor Lukács questions during the Supreme Court hearing.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Qs during Supreme Court case with Delta

The following is an interview with Dr. Lukacs soon after the hearing finished while he was still at the Supreme Court of Canada when everything were still fresh in his mind. Some linked timecodes and rough notes are included but all notes are rough, and the video is the real authority of what were said.

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview at Supreme Court post Dr. Gábor Lukács’ oral arguments

0:00 Reporter Kempton Lam (KL) thanks Dr. Gabor Lukacs (GL) for doing the interview. GL talks about where he is located.
0:30 [KL:] How do you feel right now after appearing in front of the 9 Supreme Court Justices?
1:03 [GL:] Particularly impressed by Justice Malcolm Rowe.
1:58 [GL:] Also impressed by how respectful the hearing was. And how interested the judges were in the case.
2:14 [GL:] On a personal level …
2:50 [KL:] The Judges’ probing questions and pointed comments/observations fascinated me, can you talk about your experiences? How do you feel about the case itself after the hearing?
4:27 [GL:] I think the star of the day is the Amicus Curiae Mr. Benjamin Zarnett.
4:37 [GL:] Also very impressed by Byron Williams, Counsel for Council of Canadians with Disabilities able to achieve in 5 minutes.
5:04 [KL:] I try to clarify if I had the right Amicus Curiae Mr. Benjamin Zarnett in mind. (note: I did)
6:15 [KL:] My impression of Amicus Curiae’s arguments and I ask GL to share his take.
6:53 [KL:] How do you feel about your own presentation? What is your main take away? Read the rest of this entry »


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview in advance of Supreme Court case with Delta Air Lines

Tuesday, 3 October, 2017

Interview Dr. Gabor Lukacs re Delta Air Lines Supreme Court case

Here is my 2017/Oct/02 Audio interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, talking about his Supreme Court of Canada case with Delta Air Lines. Here are some rough notes and timecodes (link points) in the interview.

0:00 Independent reporter Kempton [K] asked Dr. Gabor Lukacs [G], Air Passenger Rights Advocate, how is he feeling two days before he appears in front of Supreme Court of Canada Judges?
0:49 [K:] Any special preparation one day before your first Supreme Court appearance? (Yes, G is scheduled to teach a match class Tuesday morning!)
1:20 [G:] Teaching twice a week this term helps my public speaking skills.
2:13 [K:] Not a good idea to lecture the justices? G explains how is it like appearing in front of Supreme Court justices.
4:25 [K:] Briefly explain what this case with Delta is about? And your role?
5:25 G gives a great analogy using a speeding car driving 160km/h down the highway. Who can complain about it?
6:35 G explains Federal Court of Appeal sided with his reasoning and ruled against the CTA (Canadian Transportation Agency) and said it was unreasonable to dismiss the complain.
7:15 G talks about the various PDF files (see reference) filed by him, Delta and other parties. [K’s apologies here re misunderstanding of the pages of documents filed.]
8:22 G explains to K an Amicus Curiae (an impartial adviser) is hired by the Supreme Court and paid for by Attorney General of Canada. And four interveners: ATTORNEY GENERAL (ONTARIO), CANADIAN TRANSPORT AGENCY, INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION, COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES.
9:32 [K:] So the COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES agrees with you and Delta against you. Are there some against you and with you?
11:17 [K:] So roughly how much time have you put into preparing for the case?
13:02 [K:] Have you been to the Supreme Court as a tourist before? How will you feel when you step into the court for the first time arguing a case? Read the rest of this entry »


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview re Passenger Bill of Rights

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

Transport Minister Marc Garneau - Passenger Bill of Rights news conference

The following is my video interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, to talk about the new Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (Bill C-49).

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview re new Passenger Bill of Rights

Legal References:

Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate (FB page), notes references:

News References:

Government news release References:

(May 16, 2017 CBC News Live video, Transport Minister Marc Garneau takes questions about the government’s air passenger bill of rights bill)


Passenger rights advocate calls Federal Court of Appeal NewLeaf ruling a “Game Changer” as Court clarifies Flair Air is responsible

Friday, 16 December, 2016

20161215-federal-court-of-appeal-case

(note: see Dec 20th news updates below with @FlairAirlines & @newleaftravel comments Win-win-win for #CDN travellers as a result from @AirPassRightsCA court challenge.)

In a short/precise and yet powerful judgement (PDF file) by the Federal Court of Appeal today dismissing an appeal (2016 FCA 314) by Air Passenger Rights advocate Dr. Gabor Lukacs, the court effectively also clarified and defined the source of protection that Dr. Lukacs has been seeking for passengers. While the reseller, NewLeaf in this case, is not required to hold an air license, ultimately the licensed air carrier, Flair Air in this case, is responsible.

Lukacs explained in an in-depth Skype video interview with this reporter stating [emphasis added],

The appeal was dismissed but the reasons [see note 1 below for more details] really resolved a very significant issue that now it is clear that passengers will have a recourse against Flair [note: Flair is the “licensed air carrier” in this court case] no matter what. […]

The Federal Court of Appeal made it clear that the fact that NewLeaf is involved in selling tickets still keeps Flair fully responsible for the entire operation. So Flair cannot walk away from any kind of responsibility on the basis that ‘it wasn’t us, it was NewLeaf’. If Flair choose to enter into this kind of relationship with NewLeafFlair will have to face the consequences if anything goes wrong.”

Lukacs interview re 2016 Federal Court of Appeal judgement

Lukacs looks at the judgement as a win for passengers because from the passenger’s point of view Flair is responsible and can no longer point at NewLeaf if things go wrong. The ruling makes it clear that Flair is responsible to the passengers whether they have a contract with them or not.

NewLeaf’s reaction to the judgement

NewLeaf’s reaction to the judgement via Facebook (screen capture & Facebook link),

The federal court of appeal ruling that has dismissed the case between Gabor Lukacs and the CTA/NewLeaf essentially means the courts rule in favour of Canadians continuing to save money on air travel with NewLeaf!!

It is true that the case has been dismissed but one wonders if both NewLeaf‘s and Flair‘s legal teams have time to really carefully read and digest the full implications of the court ruling yet?

Flair’s reaction to the judgement

At press time, Flair has not issued any press release re this judgement yet and its publicly published “Tariff – Flair Airlines Ltd for NewLeaf flying” remains the July 22, 2016 version.

Given Mr. Chris Lapointe, Vice-President Commercial Operations for Flair stated a few months ago in July 2016 that “it’s not built into our financial model for Flair “to foot the bill and take the risk of people being stranded” (see “note 2 financial model” below). One has to wonder if there will be any serious business renegotiations between NewLeaf and Flair? Or is Flair now willing and able to accept the financial risks and responsibilities (e.g. “prescribed liability insurance”) that the Court of Appeal has now clarified it has?

References

note 1: Quoting from paragraph 8 of the judgement (2016 FCA 314) [emphasis added],

Further, the licenced air carrier [reporter’s note: Flair in this case] will be required to hold the prescribed liability insurance. Put more broadly, licenced air carriers are regulated under the Act when they provide an air service. The involvement of a reseller does not obviate the requirement that licensees comply with all of the obligations imposed upon them under the Act.”

note 2 “financial model”: In a transcript of a conversation between Lukcas and Mr. Chris Lapointe, Vice-President Commercial Operations for Flair Airlines Ltd taken on July 8, 2016 filed with the Federal Court of Appeal (top of electronic page 189 of this Motion Record (PDF file) – Court File No.:A-242-16) [emphasis added],

Mr. Lukcas: […] And, you know, if Flair is willing to foot the bill and take the risk of people being stranded and look after —

Mr. Lapointe: No, we’re not. We’re not. I’m not — no, no, we’re not. We don’t — it’s not built into our — it’s not built into our financial model, Gabor. We’re not — I’m not saying that we’re going to — we did that once before, it cost us a quarter-million dollars, and we did it and because we did it — because we realized we had to do it, right.

Dec 16, 2016 Update: Quoting Financial Post “Both sides claim victory after Federal Court of Appeal dismisses NewLeaf case” report by Kristine Owram (with emphasis & reporter’s note added),

“I was thrilled that (the court) actually saw that the CTA had got their ruling correct,” said NewLeaf chief executive Jim Young. “We weren’t worried too much about it in the past because we knew we’d prevail but I was glad to see that it’s now closed.”

Lukacs said his main goal was to ensure passengers are protected, and he was relieved to see the court’s finding that “passengers will still be covered, and so protected, by the terms and conditions of carriage set out in the tariff issued by the licensed air carrier operating the aircraft on which the passengers travel” — in this case, Flair.

“This is a case of losing the battle and winning the war,” Lukacs said. “I was extremely pleased with how concerned the court was about protection of passengers.”

Flair president Jim Rogers did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but he indicated in July that his airline was not responsible for passenger protection since it is only supplying the aircraft. [reporter’s note: This echoes the transcribed phone conversation between Lukacs and Mr. Chris Lapointe, Vice-President Commercial Operations for Flair Airlines described in note 2 above.]

The contract with the passenger is with NewLeaf and they have a passenger protection plan in place,” Rogers said at the time.

Dec 16, 2016 10:37pm Update: CBC Calgary has this report of NewLeaf Calgary launch, “Up in the air: Will Canada’s newest air travel company take off? – There will be a third option if you’re flying home for the holidays

Dec 20, 2016 11:01am update: Quoting CBC News to clarify NewLeaf and Flair Air’s positions, “Flair Air liable for passenger rights, not ticket reseller NewLeaf, judge says” (with emphasis and reporter’s notes added),

Jim Young, CEO of NewLeaf Travel Company, said he was happy with the appeal’s dismissal. He said Flair Air and NewLeaf had already been operating under the agreement that the airline was ultimately responsible for ensuring passenger rights. (reporter’s note: This clarification by Young is significant.)

“In fact, the tariff that we had published is still the tariff today. We’ve made no changes to it,” Young said.

Tariffs are the agreements between passengers and airlines that lay out rights and responsibilities. The Canadian Transportation Agency recommends airline passengers treat tariffs like a contract, and that they understand the terms and conditions spelled out in them.

Young said if passengers run into an issue such as a flight cancellation or lost baggage, they should first contact his company, NewLeaf, to resolve the issue. Young said the first response is referring passengers to the tariff.

“We operate on behalf of Flair as the passenger reservation system,” he said. “We accommodate them based on the terms and conditions in the tariff.”

Passengers who are not happy with NewLeaf’s response can still file a formal complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency, but they would do so naming Flair, the airline operator.

Flair Air owner Jim Rogers confirmed his company is ultimately responsible for meeting the tariff agreement with passengers.

He said his company is “pleased to accept the decision as per our tariff.” (reporter’s note: This clarification by Roger is very significant and gets passengers the protection they deserve without ambiguity.)


Chat with Air Passenger Rights Advocate Lukacs re: urgent NewLeaf injunction

Saturday, 23 July, 2016

Update July 29, 2016 report: “Ontario law governing NewLeaf internet sales has “deficiency”, Statutory Registrar acknowledges
Update July 28, 2016 report: “NewLeaf Travel blocks reporter after TICO Clarifies report
Update July 27, 2016 report: “TICO Clarifies NewLeaf Offers Ontario Flyers Limited Protection
====
This reporter got two chances this Friday July 22nd morning and mid-afternoon to interview Air Passenger Rights Advocate Dr. Gábor Lukács to talk about his urgent interlocutory injunction against NewLeaf Travel Company Inc. All of the legal files are public court records and Dr. Lukács has dated them and posted them in this directory.

One of the particular useful and detailed file is the 410 electronic pages PDF file “2016-07-21–Lukacs–motion_record–urgent_injunction_and_stay–DIGITAL-R.pdf“. See also the three referenced court documents below (sections highlighted in screen captures).

Here is the reporter’s Interview with Dr. Lukacs re: Urgent interlocutory injunction against NewLeaf Travel Company Inc. 

Highlight #1) How NewLeaf thinks credit card purchase will protect traveling Canadians. (with highlight added) (reference: court filing PDF file)

How NewLeaf thinks credit card purchase will protect traveling Canadians. (with highlight added)

How NewLeaf thinks credit card purchase will protect traveling Canadians. (with highlight added)

Highlight #2) How Air Passenger Rights Advocate Dr. Gábor Lukács disagrees with NewLeaf. (with highlight added) (ref: court filing PDF file)

How Air Passenger Rights Advocate Dr. Gábor Lukács disagrees with NewLeaf. (with highlight added)

How Air Passenger Rights Advocate Dr. Gábor Lukács disagrees with NewLeaf. (with highlight added)

Highlight #3) Latest Federal Court of Appeal directive to NewLeaf. (ref: court filing PDF file)

Latest Federal Court of Appeal directive to NewLeaf.

Latest Federal Court of Appeal directive to NewLeaf.

NOTE 1: This reporter sent an email out early Friday July 22nd morning to invite Jim Young, CEO of New Leaf Travel, to tell his company’s side of the story in a Skype video interview but have not received any reply as of press time (early morning 1:30am MST Saturday July 23rd).

NOTE 2: This is a developing story with NewLeaf being directed by the Federal Court of Appeal to “file its affidavit in support of its letter of response” by noon EST July 23, this reporter will try to post new updates as soon as practical.


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