The federal transport minister has pledged to secure customer refunds for Canadians with cancelled flights before any bailout package for airlines is rolled out.
In a statement issued Sunday (Nov. 8), federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the government was working on an aid package for airlines, airports and the industry as a whole.
“The pandemic has hit the air sector harder than any other and it is facing a delayed and slow recovery,” Garneau said.
“With passenger levels still down almost 90 per cent, air carriers and airports have been forced to take drastic measures to remain viable.”
Programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and aid programs for laid-off employees, have been options available to the air travel sector.
“When this unprecedented pandemic broke out in the spring, Canadians who had already booked travel ended up stuck with vouchers for trips they could not take instead of getting refunds. They found themselves in a situation where they have given thousands of dollars in interest-free loans to airlines,” Garneau noted.
“Before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure Canadians get their refunds.”
Garneau added that regional connectivity, which has seen cuts due to the pandemic, also needs to rebound for people in smaller, more remote communities.
Discussions between the feds and large airlines are expected to begin in the coming days.
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