April 7, 2008 / 3:16 AM / in 10 years

Canadian regulator neuters Air Canada pet policy

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Air Canada will have to backtrack on a policy that had banned shipping pets as luggage, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled on Friday.

<p>An Air Canada flight crew walks past the newly unveiled aircraft colors at the Montreal headquarters on October 19, 2004. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>

The agency said Canada’s largest airline will have to rescind a rule banning animals and their kennels weighing less than 70 pounds (31.75 kilograms) from the cargo hold.

The airline, which announced the policy in June, said then that pets took up too much room in the limited space available that could otherwise be given over for luggage.

After customers complained the policy forced them to pay extra to ship pets by cargo flights, the regulator forced Air Canada to allow pets on international routes. On Friday it extended that ruling to domestic flights because of the inconvenience caused by the policy.

“A imbalance existed between the interests of Air Canada and consumers by giving only advantages to the carrier while exposing pet owners to many significant disadvantages,” the agency said in a release.

The airline has until May 5 to make the changes needed to accommodate pets as checked luggage.

Angela Mah, a spokeswoman for Air Canada, declined to comment on the ruling, saying the airline is reviewing the decision.

Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson

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