December 18, 2012

Earlier today, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) launched a new site for the new all-inclusive air price advertising (see: All-Inclusive Air Price Advertising), in advance of new regulations that will be published in the Canada Gazette (on January 2, 2013).

This new website, and upcoming regulations, has been the result of about two years work and consultations to address consumer concerns regarding airline advertising in Canada, particularly price advertising.

The new framework and regulations also reflect a wider enforcement trend in Canada, including by the federal Competition Bureau, for more complete and up-front price advertising (as well as increased enforcement scrutiny on other key advertising areas including the general impression of advertising, disclaimers, performance claims and effective disclosure in the context of mobile devices and other new media).

According to the CTA, the new regulations are meant to achieve two broad objectives: to better allow consumers to determine total airline fares (and compare airline offerings) and promote fair competition between air carriers (creating a “level playing field for [all airline advertisers] for travel within, or originating in Canada”).

The new regulations will apply to any person that advertises air prices to the public (for travel in or originating in Canada), through interactive or non-interactive media (apparently an effort to keep the scope of communication technology neutral) and will include the following:

1.  The total price, including all taxes, fees and charges.

2.  A minimum level of disclosure for services offered (including points of origin/destination, whether a flight is one way or return, and any booking or travel availability periods)

3.  Access to a breakdown of fees, taxes and charges and any optional services offered for additional charges.

According to the Backgrounder issued by the CTA, “interactive media” includes online booking systems and telephone based services (e.g., call centers and service desks), while “non-interactive media” may include print (newspapers, magazines, etc.), broadcast advertising (i.e., television and radio) and social media (e.g., Twitter, some Facebook posts, YouTube, etc.).

Certain commercial and non-Canadian services are not included in the Regulations, including air cargo, private business or corporate charter services and flights originating outside Canada.

Potential penalties under the new Regulations will be fines of up to $25,000 for repeat offenders.

The CTA has also issued a number of new documents and guidelines in conjunction with the new Regulations including a Backgrounder, Interpretation Note, Advertising Examples, compliance information and a all-inclusive airline pricing brochure.

For more information see:

Canadian Transportation Agency – All-Inclusive Air Price Advertising


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