Canadians have registered 8,000 formal complaints against airlines since the start of the pandemic

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The Canadian Transportation Agency says it has received more than 8,000 airline complaints since mid-March, an unprecedented figure for the five-and-a-half-month period.The total exceeds the number of complaints for the whole of 2018-19 and comes amid a prolonged backlash from customers over a decision by airlines to offer flight credits rather than refunds for most canceled trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we are in the process of reviewing these complaints, it is not possible to identify the specific issues raised in these complaints or provide any type of breakdown at this time. However, we anticipate that a portion of these will relate to vouchers and refunds. The agency said in an email.

The increase in the number of complaints corresponds directly to a drop of more than 90% in passenger volume among Canadian carriers, suggesting that refunds or cancellations of flights rather than in-flight experiences are playing a prominent role.

Canadian airlines typically offer a flight credit that is valid for two years after canceling a trip, leaving many customers concerned that they will not feel comfortable flying for health or financial reasons within that time.

Since February, passengers have filed a handful of proposed class actions and three petitions garnering more than 109,000 signatures calling for reimbursement from customers.

Unlike Canadian authorities, the European Commission and the US Department of Transportation have demanded that airlines reimburse passengers. The United States and European countries, including France and Germany, have also offered billions of dollars in financial assistance to struggling carriers, while Ottawa has provided no bailouts for airlines.

The pandemic has devastated the airline industry, with billions of dollars in losses for Canadian carriers amid stranded flights and narrow international borders.

Canadian airline revenues in 2020 will fall $ 14.6 billion or 43% from a year ago, according to May estimates from the International Air Transport Association.

The complaints run from mid-March – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a travel advisory on March 13 warning Canadians against traveling abroad – until August 26.

The agency did not specify the exact number of complaints.

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