Following the news that a long awaited deal between Air Canada and the Canadian government had been reached, the airline and Air Canada Vacations executives held a virtual travel trade town hall yesterday (April 13).
Lucie Guillemette, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer — and the newly announced President of Air Canada Vacations — kicked off the meeting outlining several key takeaways for travel advisors. Notably, the scope of refunds also applies to customers who voluntarily chose to cancel non refundable tickets, not just flights cancelled by Air Canada.
“This agreement will lead us to restart some of the domestic stations effective June 1, which had been suspended during Covid, and, of course, of great interest to all of you is the refund file,” Guillemette said. “Let me provide a little bit more clarity as we will actually be refunding slightly beyond what was announced yesterday (April 12) and this is by choice. Let me explain: for bookings made between Feb. 1, 2020 and April 13, 2021, we will be refunding customers who chose to select a refund, whether the cancellation was made by Air Canada, or if the cancellation was made by our customer.”
Refund requests for all fares for flights affected by COVID-19 since Feb. 1, 2020 can be submitted through www.aircanada.com/refund over a 60 day period until June 12, 2021, many of which will be processed instantaneously. In terms of magnitude, Guillemette expects in excess of 2 million PNRs.
“We are also pleased to share with all of you that we will not be recalling commissions for refunds… We know that the past year has been as difficult for all of you as it has been for us. Although the process was lengthy, please trust that every decision we make, we try to the best of our ability to consider all the implications on our industry partners,” she added. “I also want to make sure it was understood that even if our desire to refund slightly beyond what was prescribed by our agreement, for those cancellations, we will not be recalling commission either.”
Lisa M. Pierce, Vice President, Canada and USA Sales, at Air Canada, pointed out that agents will be able to keep time of ticketing commissions.
“The scope of the policy is comprehensive, covering unused and partially used tickets, Air Canada Travel Vouchers received or requested, Aeroplan points, e-coupons, flight passes, and groups, just to name a few,” Pierce added.
Pierce also outlined Air Canada’s revised refund policy for tickets purchased after April 13.
“If Air Canada cancels a flight for any reason, and is unable to rebook a customer within three hours, the customer will be eligible for a refund,” she said. “We sincerely hope this will lead to increased customer confidence in booking with Air Canada, knowing they can get their money back if we cancel the flight.”
Alternatively, an Air Canada Travel Voucher or the equivalent value in Aeroplan Points with a 65% bonus will also be offered.
A follow up event is planned for April 19, where the team plans to have answers to questions about mitigating concerns surrounding net tickets.
Nino Montagnese, Vice President, Air Canada Vacations, noted that ACV will be matching refunds and not recalling commissions on packaged bookings, including for groups. Agencies can expect to hear from ACV about refunds via email.
“Travel is starting to come back, and we’re starting to see it,” he said.