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Canada's transport watchdog has slapped four of the country's biggest airlines with fines for violating new passenger protection rules.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Canada’s transport watchdog has slapped four of the country’s biggest airlines with a total of $45,000 in fines for violating new passenger-protection rules.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. was fined $17,500, Air Canada was fined $12,500 and Air Transat and Porter Airlines were fined $7,500 for breaching federal regulations.

Doled out by the Canadian Transportation Agency last week, the fines are the first under the country’s new passenger bill of rights, which came into effect July 15.

The rules state airlines must display a notice at the check-in desk, self-service kiosks and departure gate that passengers who are denied boarding or whose luggage is lost or damaged may be entitled to compensation.

The regulator says airlines failed to alert travellers to their rights ahead of several flights out of Halifax, Quebec City, Calgary and Edmonton between July 22 and Aug. 7.

Ottawa brought in the new rules to beef up compensation for passengers subjected to delayed flights and damaged luggage. They have been met with blowback from industry – which is challenging the regulations in court – as well as consumer advocates, who say they leave loopholes for airlines to sidestep penalties.

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