The federal government says it will make any new support for Canada’s airline industry during the COVID-19 pandemic contingent on refunds for passengers whose flights were cancelled. Transport Minister Marc Garneau laid out the requirement Sunday as he announced that Ottawa will launch talks with the industry this week.
Canada’s commercial airlines have been hit hard by COVID-19, with passenger levels down as much as 90 percent thanks to a combination of travel restrictions and fear about catching the illness.
Garneau says Ottawa is ready to respond to the sector’s pleas for assistance by providing loans and other support to help the country’s air carriers and airports weather the pandemic.
But he says the government will place strict conditions on any support, including requiring airlines to refund what is believed to be millions of dollars in previously booked tickets and protecting regional routes.
Many airlines have offered passengers credits for trips cancelled because of the pandemic, saying they cannot afford full refunds, and have cancelled some regional flights to save money.
The airlines respond
Mike McNaney president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, representing Canada’s largest air carriers (Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet), said in a statement:
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on airlines, our employees, on regional service, and the communities we serve across the country. Airlines are struggling to remain viable because of the economic chaos crated by COVID-19. All measures have been taken to reduce costs, and revenue has fallen beyond the means of even the most extreme cost cutting measures to address. The industry will not recover without strong federal leadership. We are encouraged by the government’s decision to work with carriers to try and stabilize the sector.”
It is anticipated discussions with carriers will begin this week. As this work gets underway, the industry will continue its ongoing efforts to establish COVID-19 testing programs in conjunction with our airport partners, and establish a coordinated testing strategy with the federal government.
“In addition to financial support, a federal testing strategy for aviation is critical to ensuring the industry is able to safely restart, address regional travel restrictions and international border measures, and ensure aviation is able to play the central role it must play in Canada’s eventual economic recovery,” said McNaney.
Source: Travel Industry Today
LET’S MAKE A DEAL :Federal support contingent on airlines refunding customers