The big boss of Air Canada, Calin Rovinescu, says he is ready to reimburse customers whose flights have been canceled because of COVID-19 on the condition that the Trudeau government grants him the required financial assistance.
In other words, the CEO of Air Canada says “yes” to reimbursing his customers if Ottawa pays the bill. So let’s see, the federal government, that is to say all of the Canadian taxpayers, does not have to give Air Canada such a gift.
We are talking about an astronomical sum of $ 2.3 billion in prepaid tickets that Air Canada refuses to return in hard cash to its customers on canceled flights. Rather, Air Canada is content to offer them credits for future travel, which is of little interest to a large number of customers, victims of forced flight cancellations.
I understand that Air Canada, like all airlines in the world, is going through a serious financial crisis during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. But that is no reason for us to collectively bear the bill for canceled flights.
Ottawa must not fold
I hope that the Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, will not bow down to Air Canada’s unreasonable request.
I remind him of his recent statement: “Before we spend a dime of taxpayer money on the airlines,” he said, “we will make sure Canadians get their money back. “
It was on this condition that Minister Garneau had said that: “We are ready to establish a process with the main airlines concerning financial assistance which could include loans and possibly other forms of support to guarantee important results to the airlines. Canadians. “
I do not see under what financial arguments the government of Justin Trudeau would now agree to compensate at its expense (that is to say at the expense of all taxpayers, it should be remembered) the 2,3 Billions of dollars Air Canada owes its customers for canceled flights.
Whether the federal government advances part or all of the said sum of money to Air Canada in the form of a loan, that can be argued. But there is no question of granting him a subsidy for this purpose.
Height of arrogance
Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu also takes a dim view of the possibility that federal aid to his company could be in the form of share capital and become a shareholder of Air Canada.
According to Rovinescu: “Governments that own stakes in airlines is an extremely bad idea”, claiming that most carriers with governments among their shareholders are colossal failures.
During the severe financial crisis of 2008-2009, the American and Canadian governments saved GM from bankruptcy by injecting colossal sums of capital.
GM was saved, and governments also benefited financially from GM’s stock market recovery.
If it was good for GM for the federal government to inject money in the form of capital, I do not see why it would be any different for Air Canada.
With all due respect to the big boss of Air Canada, federal aid be provided by injection of capital into Air Canada.