Canceled Air Canada flights: consumer groups demand compensation

The country’s largest carrier announced on Wednesday evening that it will cut more than 15% of its flights in July and August in a context where the air network in the country is crumbling under the overwhelming resurgence of travel.

Under the move, more than 9,500 flights, or 154 a day on average, will be cut from the airline’s schedule, which is already operating at just 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Affected flights primarily connect the airline’s hubs in Toronto and Montreal and use domestic or Canada-US routes. No international flights other than those bound for the United States are among the cancellations.

Sylvie De Bellefeuille, a lawyer with the Quebec group Option consommateurs, says that clients are absolutely eligible for compensation under the Canadian Passenger Bill of Rights.

The Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), which came into effect in 2019, require compensation – separate from a refund – between $400 and $1,000 for a cancellation or for a delay under the control of the carrier.

<q data-attributes="{"lang":{"value":"fr","label":"Français"},"value":{"html":"Je crois que c'est la décision d'Air Canada d'annuler les vols, a affirmé MmeOfBellefeuille. Therefore, people should be entitled to compensation.”,”text”:”I believe it was Air Canada’s decision to cancel the flights, said Ms. DeBellefeuille. Therefore, people should be entitled to compensation.”}}”>I believe it was Air Canada’s decision to cancel the flights, said Ms. De Bellefeuille. Therefore, people should be entitled to compensation.

Air Canada’s responsibility?

While Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau apologized for flight cancellations and customer service failureshe also said in an email to travelers that the reduced schedules stemmed from tensions in the global aviation system – potentially beyond Air Canada’s control – calling them unprecedented and unforeseen.

Gabor Lukacs, president of the travel rights group, said he believes airlines have oversold their capacity with the aim of compensating as much as possible for two years of negative results.

« Even though there were seats available on the plane, there was no pilot, there were no flight attendants, there were no gate agents. »

A quote from Gabor Lukacs, President of the Travelers Rights Group

He added that a shortage of federal security and customs officers posed even more problems.

These are cancellations that are under the control of the carrier […]. Airlines may claim otherwise, but these claims do not hold water.he argued.

Air Canada explained in an email that customers will be automatically notified of cancellations stating that this process is ongoing.

We are able to rebook immediately in some cases, while in others we will continue to research alternatives and advise them if options become availablesaid spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.

Customers can request a refund at any time, he said.

Air Canada did not respond to questions about whether the cancellations were within its control, but said it RPPA“,”text”:”would meet its obligations under the APPR”}}”>comply with its obligations under the RPPA.

It was not an easy decision as it will lead to additional flight cancellations which will negatively impact some customerssaid Mr. Rousseau in the email to customers on Wednesday evening.

However, doing so in advance gives affected customers time to make other arrangements in an orderly fashion rather than having their trip interrupted shortly before or during their trip, with few alternatives available.he continued.

Financial losses

The cancellation of flights during the summer by Air Canada contrasts with WestJet Airlines approachwhose chief executive told The Canadian Press that it gradually reduced its summer schedule throughout the spring, eventually offering 32% fewer trips to and from Toronto’s Pearson airport in July compared to 2019.

Air Canada shares fell $1.03, or 6%, to close at $16.04 on Thursday. It was worth more than $21 at the start of the month.

Faced with a glaring shortage of staff, which leads to delays, cancellations and confusion at airports. And faced with the growing exasperation of travelers in recent days, Air Canada no longer had a choice. The country’s largest airline has decided to cancel thousands of flights by September. The company hopes to reduce the pressure on its employees. But will it be enough to bring order to the country’s major airports? Report by Marie-Michelle Lauzon.

Jacques Roy, professor of transport management at the HEC Montreal business school, pointed out that the revenues of the Montreal company will suffer the consequences. This is certainly not good news for Air Canada, [car] it is high season. This is the most lucrative quarter of the year, and for three years it has been negativehe said.

At least 400,000 passengers are likely to be affected, he added.

Stress for travelers

Cathy Gray booked seats for a family trip to Scotland months ago and has already had her flight postponed once.

We booked and paid for car rental and accommodation. We are dreading what might happen to our flight schedules in August and September and the domino effect on our plans, she explained. All of this could have been avoided if the airlines hadn’t been so greedy. It is shameful.

Passenger angst was palpable on Air Canada’s website, which was overwhelmed with requests from travelers wanting to check the status of their summer flights.

We are currently experiencing technical issues which may prevent you from retrieving your booking onlinesaid an alert at the top of the airline’s homepage on Wednesday evening.

Under federal regulations, passengers are entitled to alternative travel arrangements or a refund, at the traveler’s option, if they were notified more than two weeks in advance that their flight was canceled or delayed by three hours or more for reasons beyond the carrier’s control.

If the trip was canceled with 14 days or less notice, passengers should receive $1,000 for a cancellation or delay of at least nine hours and $400 to $700 for delays of three to nine hours.

Regardless of the timing of the notice, a passenger who chooses to decline a rebooking should receive $400 in compensation in addition to a refund.

The airline must endeavor to rebook any passenger on an aircraft within its network that departs within nine hours of the original departure time. If she cannot, she should offer to make a reservation on another airline as soon as possibleand this, free of charge, according to the charter of passenger rights.

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