Transport Minister Marc Garneau says he’s afraid Canadian airlines would go bankrupt if they were forced to give refunds for flights cancelled by customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Garneau told reporters he understands the frustration of people who have been given vouchers and credits instead of cash but he has to consider the precarious financial condition of the airlines in weighing the issue. “It is so essential for this country,” he said. “This is the second largest country on Earth, with its distances and remote areas, and we expect and need an airline industry in this country.”
Passenger rights and consumer groups across the country are demanding Garneau act to force the airlines to return the money to people who cancelled flights in compliance with government measures to combat the pandemic. For some, the money spent on tickets will become an interest-free loan to the airlines but thousands of passengers are expected to simply walk away from the money because they will be unable or unwilling to use the flight credits within the allotted time. As an alternative, some consumer groups are demanding Ottawa cough up the refunds out of federal relief funds.