How the CTA will be processing refund-related complaints resulting from the pandemic
Updated - Financial support announced for Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing and Porter
As a condition of the financial support announced by the Government of Canada on April 12 to Air Canada, and subsequently to Air Transat on April 29, to Sunwing on June 25, and to Porter on June 30, the four airlines are required to refund passengers for certain pandemic-related cancelations.
As of April 13, Air Canada has begun offering eligible customers who purchased non-refundable fares, but did not travel due to COVID-19 since February 2020, the option of a refund to the original form of payment. Air Transat began doing so on April 29. Air Canada passengers have until July 12, 2021 to submit a request while Air Transat passengers have until August 26, 2021.
Sunwing also reached an agreement with the Canada enterprise emergency funding corp. Effective June 25, 2021, Sunwing Vacations will begin accepting and processing refund requests from eligible customers with non-refundable bookings whose vacations were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will apply to eligible flights, hotels and vacation packages booked on or before June 25, 2021 for scheduled travel on or after February 1, 2020. The deadline to submit a refund request is August 27, 2021.
Following the June 30th agreement with Porter airlines, the airline has begun reimbursing air passengers who are eligible for a refund for their flights booked between February 1, 2020, and prior to June 30, 2021. Customers have until September 3 to submit a refund request online.
As of June 29th at close of business, the CTA has received 16,551 complaints since March 15th 2020, of which 10,311 are related to refund-related issues stemming from the pandemic. Of these 16,551 complaints, 4,957 were filed against Air Canada, of which 2,514 sought refunds as a remedy. 1,725 complaints were filed against Air Transat, with 1,431 seeking refunds as a remedy. 1,665 of those were filed against Sunwing, of which 685 are seeking refunds as a remedy. 106 were filed against Porter, of which 91 sought refunds as a remedy.
The remaining complaints cover other air-travel related issues – for example, flight delays or baggage problems. It is anticipated that persons who seek a refund in their complaint to the CTA may be able to obtain such refund as part of the measures to be implemented by Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing as a condition for their financial support.
We will confirm whether applicants who filed complaints with us have had those resolved with the airlines.
The CTA will continue to process complaints unless passengers inform us they do not wish to pursue their complaints with us further (e. g., if a passenger receives a refund and is not seeking any further remedies). In the interests of fairness, the CTA processes most complaints on a first-in, first-out basis.
Consultation on new refund requirements – next steps
On December 18, 2020, the CTA was provided with a new authority to develop a regulation requiring airlines to issue refunds to passengers for flights cancelled for reasons beyond airlines' control, when passengers' itineraries cannot be completed within a reasonable time. We received over 119 submissions during the consultation period, which ended on March 1st 2021. The proposed regulations are now published on Canada Gazette, Part I. Public comments can be submitted to Consultations-aeriennes.Air-Consultations@otc-cta.gc.ca until August 31, 2021.