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Canada isn't ruling out taking a stake in Canadian airlines: Leblanc


Jaydee
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I think the Government should be held to account if they deem it an essential service.  Sure we will fly if the Government pays the bills.

air Canada is a Private Corporation.  To Deem them an essential service (I know it's been done before) should come with a price tag.  Calling them essential means that at that point they are operating on behalf of the federal government at which point the federal government should be the ones paying for the service.

They can make public service essential all they want because they are already paying the bills.

You want daily service to some out of the way small airport with a load factor of 2 sure we will operate it but you are paying for ALL of the seats.

It is time AC was treated like the private company it is not the Crown corporation it WAS.

 

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1 hour ago, MCPSPEED said:

Could Air Canada be deemed an “Essential Service” and be told, not allowed to pull out of some of these communities?  
Whats the difference between pulling out and striking?  

AC has never been established as an essential service.  It has been threatened during labor strife but only in a very awkward way.  The last time AC pilots were legislated back to work it was because they were “ essential to the economy” according to Lisa Raitt.    I think the threat to Jazz was more along the lines of essential service.  But again never official.

The essential service banter has been used by politicians to put down labor without giving the employees of that labor group actual status. It has been used as cover for removing the rite to strike. In other words it’s all been a bunch of political spin but has no actual status in reality.

In a true essential service situation there is a process to maintain a minimum safe service level.

https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/labour-management/essential-services.html

In the case of Air Canada’s past labor situations there was never the desire to keep a minimum safe service operating.  They wanted everything operating.  The essential service legislation doesn’t compel full service.  

Moreover, the essential service legislation compels unions to make sure a minimum staffing level is maintained during a strike.  I could be wrong here but I don’t think it compels a company to do a route they don’t want to do.  
 

 

 

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1 hour ago, MCPSPEED said:

Could Air Canada be deemed an “Essential Service” and be told, not allowed to pull out of some of these communities?  
Whats the difference between pulling out and striking?  

Government = situational ethics.

The logical answer is ‘no’. However, logic and politics are seldom aligned.

The horse has already left the barn. The Feds are now going to try to demand reinstatement of service to small communities in the airline aid discussions (if they ever start). 

This is evolving in to a PR war.

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Transat shareholders voted 91% in favour of the AC offer this AM. With the current AC stock price, it's likely most will opt for the share conversion rather than the $5 in cash - the share conversion is worth about 50% more right now. So this is likely to end up as more of a non-cash/stock swap takeover.

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AC announced share offering announced today is another middle finger to YOW.

Rather than adding more debt, AC is capable of going to the equity markets to solicit funds and enhance liquidity.

I wonder if the Feds still believe that they are in the drivers seat? 

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11 minutes ago, rudder said:

AC announced share offering announced today is another middle finger to YOW.

Rather than adding more debt, AC is capable of going to the equity markets to solicit funds and enhance liquidity.

I wonder if the Feds still believe that they are in the drivers seat? 

Exactly my feeling. The timing is deliberate, and also makes it harder to roll out a package for those airlines that can't raise capital via equity sales. The government still has needs - it has tied support to four things, mainly looking at AC, I suspect but has seemingly made it a condition for all carriers: refunding vouchers, supporting aerospace, no dividends/stock buybacks. Well, AC doesn't pay dividends and isn't buying back stock, it's selling it. Supporting aerospace? I still expect AC to reinstate those 13 cancelled A220-300 deliveries, but on its own timetable. Refunding vouchers? That's about the only thing AC may be resistant to doing, at least not without basically free federal loan money. The fourth thing, regional service continuation, ought to be a straight no-repayment subsidy, regardless of which airlines get it. 

For the other airlines, federal support is likely to include taking on substantial debt. 

Two other takeaways - if this makes a federal support package less likely,  or more expensive for the other carriers, Transat cannot hope to survive without federal approval of the takeover. Also, the announcement today by AC that it has started Doha service with code-sharing planned over QR to countries like Pakistan is another sign that the airline isn't going to back down to Ottawa. It could have deferred this service, but didn't. 

 

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Airline watchdog ordered to develop new rules for flight cancellation refunds

Mon Dec 21, 2020 - BNN/Bloomberg
Jon Victor

The federal government is directing the Canadian Transportation Agency to strengthen rules that require airlines to refund passengers for cancelled flights.

In a statement Monday, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the pandemic has highlighted a gap in Canada's protections for airline passengers, which weren't designed to cover such lengthy delays.

“In the event of a future situation that causes similar large-scale flight cancellations, this gap needs to be closed so that travellers are treated fairly,” Garneau said.

Existing CTA rules don't require airlines to offer refunds if they can get passengers to the destination within a reasonable time period - for example, offering a next-day flight if a snowstorm grounds planes. But passenger advocates say that doesn't work for the indefinite delays ticket-holders currently face and are lobbying the government to mandate that airlines issue cash refunds, rather than travel vouchers, for flights that were cancelled due to COVID-19.

At least 3.9 million passengers have been affected by cancelled flights due to COVID-19, according to Gabor Lukacs, the founder of Air Passenger Rights, one of the groups advocating for airlines to issue refunds.

Scott Streiner, chair and chief executive officer of the CTA, said the agency's goal is to have the new regulations in place by next summer.

One of the biggest details to be worked out between now and then include how long customers have to wait after a cancelled flight before they are entitled to a refund, Streiner said.

The agency is launching a public consultation between now and Jan. 28 to help determine the answer to that and other questions.

“This is a major priority for us,” Streiner said.

The new rules would apply to future cancellations only and will not be retroactive.

Garneau said the updated regulations should be “fair and reasonable” to passengers and should not impose an undue burden on airlines “that could lead to their insolvency.”

Airline passenger refunds have emerged as a point of contention between airlines and the government, which are currently negotiating the terms of an aid package for the struggling travel sector.

The federal government has said that any aid to the sector would be contingent on giving passengers full refunds for cancelled flights.

Airlines maintain that they are not legally required to issue refunds and have criticized Ottawa for its delay in issuing more assistance to the sector.

Lukacs says he warned the government in an in-person meeting and written communications in 2019 that Canada's protections for airline passengers were weak and could be misinterpreted by airlines to avoid issuing refunds.

Air Passenger Rights' communications with both Transport Canada and CTA cast doubt on the government's claim that it discovered this issue as a result of the pandemic, Lukacs said.

In response to a question about whether the government was aware of regulation gaps prior to the pandemic, Transport Canada spokeswoman Allison St-Jean didn't answer directly. “We are encouraged by recent efforts by air carriers to provide options for cancelled flights and refunds in some cases,” she said.

The CTA said it has only now received legal authority to develop regulations requiring airlines to issue refunds if a flight is cancelled for reasons beyond the airline's control and passengers can't complete their itinerary within a reasonable timeframe.

Stephanie Kusie, a Conservative MP and the shadow minister for transport, said in a tweet Monday afternoon that the government's proposal fails to address the problem of outstanding passenger refunds.

Similarly, Lukacs said the new regulations wouldn't be of any help to those passengers who have already had their flights cancelled.

“This would provide no relief to passengers who have been shortchanged,” Lukacs said. “Regardless of what they do with the regulations, the law is already that passengers are entitled to a refund.”

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The Airlines would have gladly carried all of those passengers to their destinations were it not for the GOVERNMENT imposing restrictions on travel.  This does not fall on the airline.  The refunds should fall squarely with the federal government for imposing the restrictions on the airlines.

Why does anyone think the airline thought "Well, here is an excuse to stop flying airplanes and keeping a wad of cash"  That is simply crazy.

Besides that, the federal government suspended the passenger bill of rights legislation at the same time they imposed the restrictions.  

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2 hours ago, boestar said:

The Airlines would have gladly carried all of those passengers to their destinations were it not for the GOVERNMENT imposing restrictions on travel.  This does not fall on the airline.  The refunds should fall squarely with the federal government for imposing the restrictions on the airlines.

Why does anyone think the airline thought "Well, here is an excuse to stop flying airplanes and keeping a wad of cash"  That is simply crazy.

Besides that, the federal government suspended the passenger bill of rights legislation at the same time they imposed the restrictions.  

No, the airlines should do the refunds, but the government should provide aid commensurate with the disruptions caused by current restrictions. That said, I disagree with the US approach of providing aid that mainly goes to paying all employees full salaries to fly empty planes around - come the post-Xmas period, that's what is going to happen with airline aid provided in the new stimulus bill. And United, among others, is basically saying this will just give employees a few months' pay before being laid off again. In Canada, we have CEWS, but it's not as generous for employers.

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Dagger,

What are your thoughts on the possibility of government help to airlines having a negative effect on the recovery of these airlines.

From a union centric point of view, of course the desire for wages to be paid and employment maintained is likely to be prominent. However what is the rational behind paying an employee to be at work if their is little demand for his labor? I think that's the point made above. The normal unemployment insurance channels should cover the needs of unemployed workers in the near term.

From a business point of view, won't giving $$ to the airlines just prolong their quasi inevitable shrinking that will need to occur in order to "right size" prior to resuming growth? I'm sure all carriers have been shrinking in any way possible but what about long term commitments? Long term leases for aircraft that are unlikely to fly in the short term could prove to be an unsustainable drain on financial resources. If the government gives a package that increases liquidity at all carriers, won't that just be kicking the problem down the road? Just like paying for  employees that aren't required by the present level of flying, don't those long term obligations need to be addressed?  Is the near future outlook good enough to plan for a speedy recovery?

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While I certainly agree that refunds are in order I would love to see how many of these people wanting refunds cry foul when on the other side.  How many are upset when they miss a doctor/dentist appointment and are expected to still pay? How may make a restaurant reservation and perhaps don't show? If it's fair in one case it is fair in all cases.

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2 hours ago, Trader said:

How many are upset when they miss a doctor/dentist appointment and are expected to still pay?

You would really see them howl if the doctor/dentist cancelled the appointment and still expected them to pay.

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13 hours ago, Airband said:

You would really see them howl if the doctor/dentist cancelled the appointment and still expected them to pay.

I'm not saying the cancelled flight thing isn't a mess, but it would only be the same if the patient had paid in advance to make the appointment after they checked a box stating that they understood and agreed with all of the conditions associated with that booking. 

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It's one thing when the Gábor Lukács, various opinion writers in the newspapers and social media posters say it, perhaps another when Air Canada itself sees the writing on the wall:

"Not refunding non-refundable tickets exposes Air Canada to litigation, as well as enforcement action by regulators in certain jurisdictions, and may also adversely impact Air Canada’s brand and reputation. Class actions claiming the refund of non-refundable tickets or tour packages have been filed against Air Canada, and other carriers, in Canada and in the United States, and additional class actions or other proceedings may be instituted in these or other jurisdictions. In countries where refund requirements are or will be enhanced, maintained or enforced, ensuing refunds will impact Air Canada’s liquidity and the impact of all these risks could be material."

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Supreme Court declines to hear bid for injunction in flight refund case

From Toronto City News – link to source story

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS | DEC 23, 2020

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear a case about air passenger refunds for flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Air Passenger Rights organization wanted to challenge a Federal Court of Appeal decision that dismissed the group’s bid for an injunction compelling the Canadian Transportation Agency to remove a post about refunds from its website temporarily while a broader case about the statement’s validity plays out.

The transportation agency said in March that airlines have the right to issue travel credits instead of a refund for cancelled trips in the “current context,” though the agency later clarified that the online statement was “not a binding decision.” 

Canadian airlines have generally offered credit valid for two years or more, but avoided offering reimbursement to customers whose flights were nixed because of the coronavirus crisis.

Air carriers have cited the transportation agency’s stance in response to consumer complaints and analyst questions. 

Air Passenger Rights founder Gabor Lukacs says the agency’s statements misled travellers about their right to a refund and contradict the quasi-judicial body’s previous decisions. 

The pandemic has devastated the airline industry, with billions of dollars in losses for Canadian carriers due to grounded flights and tight international borders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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6 hours ago, Malcolm said:

Air Passenger Rights founder Gabor Lukacs says the agency’s statements misled travellers about their right to a refund and contradict the quasi-judicial body’s previous decisions. 

 

I'm tired of this guy. He's past his best-before-date IMHO...

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Does anybody find it incongruous that we let people leave here and fly to England but now will not let them come back because of the new COVID variant.  At the very least shouldn't we have 'repatriation flights to Trenton and then mandatory quarantine on base for 14 days?  

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Yeah it's tough, but Government of Canada issued Travel Advisory in mid-March 2020 advising against non-essential travel outside of Canada basically saying you're on your own if you choose to travel.

This warning has been in effect since that time:

As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and as fewer international transportation options are available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period.

Many countries continue to have strict travel restrictions in place, and the availability of options for international transportation remain limited. As a result you may have difficulty returning to Canada. While some countries are partially opening their borders, we continue to advise against non-essential travel outside of Canada. We also continue to advise that you avoid all cruise ship travel outside of Canada until further notice.

The governments of those destinations that have opened their borders to tourists could impose strict travel restrictions suddenly, should they experience an increase in cases of COVID-19. International transportation options could be reduced significantly, making it difficult for you to return to Canada. There are no plans to offer additional repatriation flights. Should you decide to travel despite our advisories, know that you might have to remain abroad longer than you expected.

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1 hour ago, Airband said:

As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and as fewer international transportation options are available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period.

Many countries continue to have strict travel restrictions in place, and the availability of options for international transportation remain limited. As a result you may have difficulty returning to Canada. While some countries are partially opening their borders, we continue to advise against non-essential travel outside of Canada. We also continue to advise that you avoid all cruise ship travel outside of Canada until further notice.

The governments of those destinations that have opened their borders to tourists could impose strict travel restrictions suddenly, should they experience an increase in cases of COVID-19. International transportation options could be reduced significantly, making it difficult for you to return to Canada. There are no plans to offer additional repatriation flights. Should you decide to travel despite our advisories, know that you might have to remain abroad longer than you expected.

But if I need to go to England for whatever reason, nothing there tells me I won't be let back in to Canada.  As a Canadian - I expect more from our feckless Feds. 

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18 minutes ago, Specs said:

But if I need to go to England for whatever reason, nothing there tells me I won't be let back in to Canada.

You will be let back into Canada, but you'll need to find an alternate route since airlines cannot provide direct transportation from the UK at the moment.

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