Airlines are no longer required to provide refunds to customers who have cancelled their flights due to coronavirus travel restrictions and health warnings.

According to a March 25 statement by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), airlines will instead issue flight vouchers valid for up to 24 months. 

Air Canada and WestJet have already implemented the policy and will not be giving customers refunds for cancellations. 

The CTA claims that Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulations are not equipped to deal with the current mass cancellations occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The legislation, regulations, and tariffs were developed in anticipation of relatively localized and short-term disruptions. None contemplated the sorts of worldwide mass flight cancellations that have taken place over recent weeks as a result of the pandemic,” said the CTA. 

“It’s important to consider how to strike a fair and sensible balance between passenger protection and airlines’ operational realities in these extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances.”

Airlines have been devastated as a result of global travel restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Early in March, Canadian airline stocks crashed shortly after US President Donald Trump initially announced travel restrictions from Europe. 

Since March 13, Air Canada shares have fallen by over 50%. The company was forced to lay off over 5,000 employees as a result of the pandemic. 

WestJet also announced on Tuesday that it will be laying off 6,900 workers to deal with the industry’s downturn.

“We are now operating at the same size that we were back in 2003. I commend those who chose to stand down so our airline can stand up,” said CEO Ed Sims. 

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