Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner
IN PHOTO: Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner lands at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, May 18, 2014. Reuters/Aaron Harris

The fight for an air passenger’s right takes on another level as Gabor Lukacs has invoked the principle of “open court” before the Federal Court on March 17 after the Canadian Transportation Agency censored some of the documents constituting several complaints against Air Canada. Lukacs cited his ground the agency’s refusal to disclose complete evidence received as it reviewed complaints filed by several air passengers. The Nova Scotia-born mathematician questioned the agency’s operations.

Such move springs from Gabor’s attempt to scrutinise some documents from the agency to have a better understanding of the complaint. But upon receiving them, he discovered that they were retracted.

“What I’ve been seeing is over the last years is a complete degradation of the agency’s work and the development of this … smokescreen kind of secrecy around how things are being done,” CBC News reports.

Among those that were censored was Air Canada’s lawyer. The CTA argued that some information were omitted to protect the parties’ privacy. In rendering justice, Canada operates within the context of open court principle, which allows the public to witness civil lawsuit and criminal proceedings. The “open court” principle is vested by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Its rationale rests on the idea that in order for the public to have confidence in the court system and understanding in administration of justice, there ought to be full publicity or openness. Of course, the principle admits of exceptions, such as to conceal the identity of youth offenders and sexual assault victims.

It is the advocacy of Lukacs that said principle applies even to quasi-judicial bodies like the Canadian Transportation Agency simply because it functions similar to a court, lest the right of passengers to a fair trial is prejudiced. But the agency said it is acting within the ambit of the Privacy Act, which grants them authority to modify or set aside the “open court” principle.

Gabor has been an important catalyst in influencing major changes on how Canadian airlines should handle customer relations. His advocacy began in 2009 when his profession requires him to travel. The CTA made 26 decisions which involved Lukacs. He has since won 24 of the cases, one of which was about an increased compensation to passengers who were forced to miss their flights due to overbooking.

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