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Air passenger advocacy group asks top court to hear ticket refund case

Last Updated Aug 4, 2020 at 11:29 am PDT

The Supreme Court of Canada is shown in Ottawa on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Summary

Air passenger rights advocates want Canada's top court to hear case around ticket refunds

Case around statement on CTA's website that says airlines have right to issue travel credits instead of refunds

Passenger advocate says CTA's statement misleads public around their rights to reimbursement

OTTAWA — An advocacy group is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear a case on passenger refunds as frustration over flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to simmer.

The Air Passenger Rights organization has sought leave to appeal a Federal Court decision that dismissed the group’s attempt to compel the Canadian Transportation Agency to remove a statement on refunds from its website.

The CTA said in March that airlines have a 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 avoided offering reimbursement to customers whose flights were called off because of the coronavirus crisis, with carriers citing the agency’s position in complaint responses and in answer to analyst questions.

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Air Passenger Rights founder Gabor Lukacs says the CTA’s position misleads the public about their right to a refund and contradicts the quasi-judicial body’s previous decisions.

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

Since February, passengers have filed a handful of proposed class-action lawsuits and three petitions garnering more than 109,000 signatures that call for customer reimbursement.

The CTA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.