Air Canada could be fined over $25 million USD ($30.42 million CAD) over allegations that the airline has not offered timely refunds to customer with cancelled flights.
In a press release, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) revealed they would seek a $25,550,000 USD penalty for the airline’s “failure to provide refunds in a timely manner to thousands of consumers who requested them.”
According to the release, they are justifying the stiff penalty based on considerations like “consumer harm caused by the violations.” The organization reveals that they have gotten more than 6,000 complaints against Air Canada for not giving refunds on cancelled flights or flights that experienced major changes, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The release read: “In May of 2020, OACP announced it would use its enforcement discretion to accommodate airlines that needed slightly longer than usual to process refunds given the high volume of requests, as long as airlines were making a good faith effort.
“Air Canada did not make such good faith efforts. Instead, for almost one year after the announcement of the May 2020 enforcement notice, Air Canada continued its no-refund policy in violation of U.S. law.”
The DOT also disclosed that were investigating refund practices of other airlines )both domestic and foreign carriers) operating in the United States.
In a statement made available to The Hill, Air Canada said the case of DOT “has no merit,” and would challenge the allegations.
The statement which was issued by Air Canada’s spokesperson read: “Since the start of the pandemic, Air Canada has refunded more than $1.2 billion to eligible customers with refundable fares whose travel was impacted by COVID-19.
“Since April 13, 2021, eligible customers, including eligible U.S. customers, who purchased a non-refundable ticket for travel on or after February 1, 2020 but did not fly have been able to obtain a refund from the carrier.”