Experts: U.S. seeking $25M from Air Canada for being slow to refund customers


Published: 15Jun2021

The U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking a $25.5 million US penalty against Air Canada for "failing to provide consumers prompt refunds" after cancelling their flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a "notice of enforcement proceeding" issued by the department on Tuesday, June 15, the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection says Air Canada "unlawfully failed to provide timely refunds" for flights between the United States and Canada that were cancelled or significantly changed. (CBC News)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

John Gradek, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies

The issue of Air Canada refunds has been the subject of a steady stream of dialogue and debate among travellers, the airline and the regulators of commercial air services. While the Canadian Transportation Agency has supported Air Canada’ issuance of vouchers and coupons rather than refunds since the start of service suspensions in March 2020, foreign regulators have been more forceful in demanding refunds for passengers whose cancelled trips involved their territory. The European Union has been largely successful in pressuring Air Canada to refund, and this action by the U.S. Department of Transportation is the result of their frustration at Air Canada’s lack of urgency in providing refunds.”

John Gradek is a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies, where he is also the program coordinator for the Diploma in Integrated Aviation Management. He has held senior roles at Air Canada in operations, marketing and planning and has worked in the development and the delivery of commercial airline management programs for the International Aviation Management Training Institute. He is currently an adjudicator with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

john.gradek [at] (English, French)

Karl Moore, Associate Professor, Desautels School of Management

The U.S. Department of Transportation has received, more than 6,000 refund complaints since March 1, 2020. It believes that Air Canada’s approach ‘lacks merit’. Air Canada, suffering the worst times in airline history, has worked very hard to preserve their cash flow. My sense is that the U.S. Department of Transport is more apt to prevail.”

Karl Moore is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management. He is an international expert in the airline and aerospace industry and has taught, consulted and advised the Canadian Government, IATA, ICAO, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air Canada, CAE and Bombardier, among others.

karl.moore [at] (English)

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Frédérique Mazerolle
Media Relations, McGill University
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