As the global pandemic has slowed international travel almost to a halt, many Canadians have been forced to cancel vacations, flights and international trips. After some airlines suggested they’d be compensating passengers with travel credits, rather than cash refunds, the Prime Minister has spoken out. On Thursday, Trudeau promised to have “careful discussions” about air ticket refunds in Canada.
Speaking during his daily COVID-19 address on May 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that further discussions would need to take place regarding ticket refunds from Canadian airlines.
Several major Canadian airlines are currently offering travel credits, rather than monetary refunds, for services that have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
On Thursday, the PM was asked whether the government would pressure airlines to properly refund Canadians who have had travel plans disrupted by the global pandemic.
"I think we recognize how impacted air travel and airline industries are by this COVID-19 pandemic," the prime minister began.
"But, we also recognize that many Canadians are out of pocket for tickets that they are obviously not going to be using," he said.
Trudeau continued, "I think we need to have some very careful discussions with airlines ... and indeed with Canadians who are concerned ... to try and figure out a way forward where we can ensure that Canadians are treated fairly, and our airline industry remains there for when the economy picks up again.”
Trudeau noted that his government would also consider how other countries are dealing with this same issue.
“I think Canadians want to make sure that they’re not out of pocket, but also want to make sure that there’s a future for our airline industry in Canada,” he added.
Trudeau’s comments come several weeks after a class-action lawsuit was filed in Canada, targeting five leading Canadian airlines.
Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Swoop and Air Transat were all named in the suit, accused of failing to provide a full cash refund to customers, rather than just travel credits.
While the COVID-19 cancellation policies for these airlines currently remain the same, federal government involvement could trigger a change.
That said, with many airlines at a financial breaking point, it's not certain whether cash refunds are even possible.
During his press conference on Thursday, the Prime Minister was interrupted by a pesky wasp, which is the latest funny moment to come out of his daily press conferences.
For now, it seems Canadians looking for refunds will have to wait a little longer to see exactly what will happen with their cash!