B.C. Supreme Court Rejects Air Canada Arguments Over Fuel Surcharge

In a decision released January 18th, 2012, the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed an application by Air Canada for declarations that the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (BPCPA) is constitutionally inapplicable to them. The application by Air Canada (and Lufthansa) arose as a result of proposed class proceedings on behalf of the plaintiff, Bulent Unlu, and peoples in British Columbia who, when purchasing an airline ticket, were charged a hefty international fuel surcharge that was listed as a tax on airplane ticket invoices, but was not actually remitted to a third-party government agency. Instead, the surcharge was kept by the airlines. The plaintiff alleges that the fuel surchage was falsely represented as a tax on airline invoices, and proposes that this amounted to practice which was contrary to the BPCPA, a B.C. Provincial statue.

The airlines asked for a declaration that the BPCPA is constitutionally inapplicable due to the doctrine of paramountcy, or alternately, the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Adair dismissed the application. Read the decision and reasons for dismissal here.