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Air Canada tweaks cancellation policy, offers vouchers with no expiry

Air Canada (AC.TO) has revised its policy and will provide customers facing cancelled flights as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with the choice of a voucher with no expiry date or Aeroplan points.

But the updated policy falls short of offering customers a full refund, a move that thousands of Canadians have called for through various petitions.

Air Canada’s updated policy was announced on Friday and will apply to travel between March 1 and June 30, 2021.

Customers with non-refundable tickets for flights for that have been cancelled because of COVID-19 will now have two options – a voucher for the value of the ticket with no expiry day, or they can convert the value of the ticket to Aeroplan points and receive an additional 65 per cent bonus points.

“While the world is making great progress against COVID-19, we know we must remain vigilant, which includes being flexible. This is why we are introducing two new solutions for customers should their travel plans change,” Lucie Guillemette, Air Canada’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

“Both options, retroactive to March 1, give customers greater confidence and flexibility to plan and book travel with Air Canada.”

The updated policy comes a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will look into the issue of airlines providing travel vouchers instead of refunds for cancelled flights.

“I think we need to have some very careful discussions with airlines, the air travel sector and indeed with Canadians who are concerned to try to figure out a way forward where we can ensure that Canadians are treated fairly and our airline industry remains there for when our economy picks up again,” Trudeau told reporters on Thursday.

Thousands of Canadians have signed several petitions circulated online, calling on airlines to provide refunds instead of travel vouchers.

While U.S. and European Union officials have ordered airlines to reimburse passengers for cancelled flights, Canadian airlines are not obligated to do the same. The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), a quasi-judicial organization that resolves disputes related to air travel, issued a statement in late March allowing airlines to provide vouchers or credits for future travel instead of refunds.

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