Rumors are swirling on Parliament Hill that an airline bailout package is in the works and that might have had something to do with WestJet announcing its new refund policy. The entire aviation industry has been clamouring for sector-specific help to weather the COVID-19 slowdown but senior politicians and bureaucrats are now dropping not-so-subtle hints that help is on the way. It will most likely take the shape of low-interest loans and relief from government-controlled airport fees. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on Friday with some strings that might be attached to such help. “My largest preoccupation is always going to be for Canadians themselves, for workers, and for people in rural and remote or even not so rural or remote regions like Atlantic Canada,” he said.
The comment about Atlantic Canada was in reference to WestJet’s decision to abandon 80 percent of its flights in the region last week. Earlier this week, it announced that anyone who booked a flight that has been cancelled by WestJet will get a refund, rather than a flight credit or voucher. It’s also being speculated that a refund program will be a condition of federal aid although the politicians haven’t been discussing that.