(Montreal) A consumer rights group accuses Air Canada of not being transparent with the public on the issue of customer refunds, even as it tries to secure a government bailout.
In a meeting with the Parliament’s Transportation Committee on Thursday, Canadian Airlines’ director-general of government and community relations David Reault refused to provide details on the number of passengers affected by the non-payment, saying the information could be commercially sensitive.
According to the head of the passenger rights group, Gabor Lukas, the airline is not explicit and should be required to disclose this information as a condition of receiving public funds.
“If they want public money, they’ll have to provide the information,” said Lukax. “They can’t get butter and money.”
The Consumer Rights Organization estimates that as of September 30, nearly 3.9 million passengers were denied compensation for flights they did not take.
Reale also told MPs on Thursday that Air Canada would not issue refunds to passengers unless it received government aid.
Air Canada believes that refunds are not required and that the company should hold onto its funds in order to resume air travel after the pandemic.
“Our refund policy is in line with instructions provided by the Canadian Transportation Agency, which states that credits are an acceptable alternative,” said Air Canada spokesperson Pascal Derry. “In fact, our policy goes beyond the CTA recommendations.”
For months, airlines have been negotiating with the government the details of an aid plan for their sector. The issue of passenger compensation was a key part of these discussions, and Ottawa said any financial aid would be conditional on such reimbursement.
In December, the federal government called on OTC, which oversees passenger rights issues, to tighten rules requiring airlines to compensate travelers for canceled flights.
However, these new rules will only apply to future cancellations and will not be retroactive.