In exchange for federal support, Air Canada has agreed to refund customers whose flights were cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
The airline said that eligible customers who purchased a non-refundable ticket for travel on or after February 1, 2020 but did not fly can now obtain a refund from the carrier by submitting a request online or with their travel agent. The revised COVID-19 refund policy covers tickets and Air Canada Vacations packages purchased before April 13, 2021 for flights cancelled either by the airline or by the customer for any reason.
“Air Canada will be offering refunds to all eligible customers whether they cancelled their ticket or if their flight was cancelled by the airline. Customers can now submit refund requests online or through their travel agent and we are committed to processing refunds as fast as possible,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.
“In addition, Air Canada has revised its booking policies for all future travel. Starting today, in cases where a customer’s flight is cancelled or rescheduled by more than three hours, we will now offer all customers the choice of receiving a refund, an Air Canada Travel Voucher or the equivalent value in Aeroplan Points with a 65% bonus. This new policy will provide more certainty and flexibility, so customers can book their future travel with greater confidence and we look forward to welcoming you back on board,” Guillemette added.
Customers who have already accepted an ACTV or Aeroplan points will have the option to exchange these for a refund to the original form of payment, including for the unused portion of any ACTV issued or in cases where a partial refund was provided.
Customers who booked through a travel agency must contact their agent directly.
For customers who make voluntary changes, normal fare rules will apply. Air Canada has also extended its existing goodwill policy so that customers can make a one-time change without a fee for all new or existing bookings made through May 31, 2021 for original travel until May 31, 2022.
The federal government agreed to provide the battered airline with a variety of low-interest loans of up to $5.4 billion while committing the country’s largest air carrier to refund customers whose flights were cancelled because of the pandemic. It will also take an equity stake in the company by purchasing $500 million in stocks.
For their part, Air Canada has also agreed to restore flights on nearly all suspended regional routes, cap compensation for company executives at $1 million per year and to suspend share buybacks and the payment of dividends to shareholders during the loan period.
Additionally, the airline will maintain its workforce at current levels, respect collective bargaining agreements and protect workers’ pensions. The company currently has 14,859 active Canadian employees after having laid off tens of thousands on account of lost revenue.
“Taxpayers aren’t footing the bill,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a news conference in Toronto on Monday. “This is a loan facility, and the government of Canada fully expects to be paid back.”