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WestJet to start offering refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19

Last Updated Oct 21, 2020 at 8:37 pm PST

FILE - A WestJet plane takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Vancouver on Monday, May 13, 2019. Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in a transaction it valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Summary

WestJet will start offering full cash refunds next month to those who had flights cancelled because of COVID-19

WestJet will contact eligible guests, beginning Nov. 2 with flights cancelled at the start of the pandemic

The airline had been offering vouchers for cancelled flights, which angered some customers.

CALGARY (NEWS 1130) — WestJet will start offering full cash refunds next month to those who had flights cancelled because of COVID-19.

The airline had been offering vouchers for cancelled flights, which angered some customers.

The WestJet Group of Companies announced Wednesday it will begin providing refunds in the original form of payment to guests whose flights were cancelled by WestJet and Swoop as a result of the pandemic.

WestJet will contact eligible guests, beginning Nov. 2, with flights cancelled at the start of the pandemic.

The airline expects it will take six to nine months to work through eligible requests.

“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID world they are looking for reassurance on two fronts — the safest possible travel environment, and refunds,” Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, says in a release.

“We are the first national airline in Canada to do so,” he says.

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Sims, in a post on the company website, said WestJet has reduced costs as much as possible after facing a 95 per cent drop in demand for services.

Up until this point, quite plainly, the financial position of airlines around the world has been precarious,” he adds.

“We went 72 days in a row where cancellations outstripped bookings, something that has not happened – ever – in our almost 25-year history.”

Last month, laid-off WestJet customer service staff in Vancouver said the company contracted out their jobs and offered severance packages instead of recalling them, despite receiving federal assistance funding.

Sims says WestJet is now seeing bookings higher than cancellations, but more than 140 of its 181 aircraft are parked, while more than 4,000 WestJet employees were permanently laid off.

Last month, WestJet started offering refunds to customers with European flights that it cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.