We have read the statement from Air Transat in response to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) inquiry with respect to the diversions at the Ottawa Airport on July 31, 2017.
The CTA ordered Air Transat to explain circumstances surrounding a delay of two of their flights, TS157 (Brussels-Montreal) and TS507 (Rome-Montreal), which spent several hours on the tarmac at YOW.
The Ottawa Airport Authority would like to offer some clarifications.
Airlines engage third party ground handling firms to manage their affairs at airports, including aircraft marshalling, baggage handling and check-in/gate services, except in cases where their own employees handle these tasks. As a seasonal charter service provider from Ottawa, Air Transat would have such an arrangement in place with a ground handling firm, and would therefore be responsible for determining the level of service provided by their contractor. This arrangement would extend to arranging refueling service and providing all airside equipment necessary to fulfill contractual obligations, as determined in the contract. The contractual relationship between the ground handler and the airline rests between both parties and not with the Airport Authority. The role of the Airport Authority is to ensure that ground handlers operate in a safe and secure manner.
In the case of refuelling, airlines contract a fuel provider. Once again, it is the airlines that set the standard of service, including during irregular air operations such as occurred on July 31st when 20 aircraft were diverted to Ottawa (YOW) from Toronto (YYZ) and Montreal (YUL). The airport does not determine the priority of refuelling activity. This is determined by the airlines who request refuelling through their ground handlers. We have been advised that refuelling is typically done on a first come first served basis unless special circumstances dictate that an aircraft receive priority. Again, this is done without airport involvement and is typically arranged by the airline directly or through its ground handler. At no time did the Air Transat crew or its ground handler request fuelling assistance or a gate from the Airport Authority.
The Authority offered its full support and assistance to Air Transat on July 31st via their designated ground handler, as it did with all airlines that were affected that evening. Many options were available to the airline at all times while the aircraft were on the apron, had they wished to deplane. The airport had buses on standby on the airfield to shuttle passengers to the terminal and there were gates available for deplaning.
Our staff was on the ground to spread these messages and ensure all parties involved were aware of the facilities and assistance available.
We look forward to the results of the CTA inquiry as OMCIAA remains committed to offering world class facilities to air travellers and airlines that arrive and depart our airport on a scheduled or unscheduled basis.