Lawsuit over air security at Vancouver Games

Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:28pm EST
 
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Small air operators whose wings were clipped by security rules during the Vancouver Olympics said on Wednesday they are suing the Canadian government for damages.

The six operators, including Pacific Coastal Airlines, say the government ignored their requests for compensation, something they say is normally paid to businesses hurt by security for events such as G8 summits.

"It is quite unacceptable that the Canadian government will not face up to its responsibilities," said John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, which says the losses during the Games topped C$1 million.

Canada also hosted the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto this year.

Aircraft were prohibited from flying near Olympic venues immediately before and during the Winter Games in Vancouver and British Columbia's Whistler resort in February, and tighter passenger screening was required throughout the region.

The charter and small airline operators complain they lost out on tourist revenue during the Olympics, and the screening rules limited their flights and prevented them from carrying last-minute passengers.

Most air travel between Vancouver and coastal communities is done using float-planes and small aircraft, and does not involves less stringent passenger screening requirements than airports use.

Officials at Transport Canada were not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.

The security budget for the Vancouver Games was more than C$900 million ($900 million), nearly all of which was paid for by the federal government.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank McGurty)