Air Canada to pay US $ 4.5 million to compensate US customers

Air Canada will ultimately have to pay US $ 4.5 million (approximately CAN $ 5.6 million) to compensate thousands of American customers who had their flights canceled or modified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The agreement was reached between the carrier and the Office of Air Travelers Protection of the United States Department of Transportation, which had initiated legal proceedings against Air Canada because the company was slow to compensate its customers.

This is a record compensation claimed from an air carrier, the department said in a press release Monday.

The carrier explained that it had decided to come to an agreement with the US government “to avoid a protracted litigation while Air Canada focuses, with its stakeholders, on its reconstruction after the pandemic”.

All in all, Air Canada is doing well with this agreement. Last June, the US government launched a lawsuit totaling $ 25.5 million against the carrier over delays that had stretched for more than a year to reimburse US customers.

“The United States Department of Transportation […] agreed for 4.5 million US dollars, less a credit of 2.5 million taking into account the reimbursements already paid to customers who would not otherwise have been entitled to such reimbursements, ”said Pascale Déry, word for Air Canada.

“Carriers and other sellers of tickets for flights have a legal obligation to reimburse consumers if the airline cancels or significantly changes a flight,” recalled the Department of Transportation. The repayment period must be limited to a few weeks at most, with a slightly higher tolerance threshold during the pandemic.

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“Air Canada did not act in good faith. On the contrary, almost a year after the May 2020 announcement, Air Canada is maintaining its non-reimbursement policy in violation of US law, ”the US authorities indicated.

The government explained that it had received more than 6,000 complaints against Air Canada.

The Montreal-based carrier replied by assuring that the Department of Transportation’s rules on the reimbursement period were only “guidelines” and that they had no legal value.

“No reprehensible act has been committed”, reiterated Ms. Déry on Monday, stressing that the Department of Transport “has begun a review of its regulations in order to harmonize the law with its interpretation”.

It should be remembered that Air Canada also found itself in turmoil by delaying repaying its Canadian customers, only deciding to do so after receiving $ 5.9 billion in aid from Ottawa.

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