Air Canada relaxes modification fee rules

Air Canada announced Wednesday that its travelers could make changes to their recently purchased tickets, for departures scheduled before May, without incurring any fees, as part of the latest update of the policy of the line aerial response to the coronavirus epidemic.
The new policy allows passengers to make a single change to any ticket purchased before March 4 for a trip scheduled to depart before April 30, provided that the return takes place by the end of the year.

In addition, for Air Canada tickets purchased between March 4 and the end of March, travelers can now change their flight free of charge up to 24 hours before departure.

The policy thus softens the announcement made by Air Canada last week, in which the carrier canceled the modification fees up to two weeks before departure, while travel controls by foreign governments change daily.

Similar announcements were made by several US airlines this week. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines allow passengers to change bookings for trips to any destination until April 30 without paying a fee.

The drop in fees by Canada’s largest airline underscores increased efforts to lessen the blow from the spread of COVID-19, which has seen bookings plunge and cancellations explode for airlines around the world.

National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen predicts that the epidemic will cost Air Canada $ 1.4 billion in adjusted profit this year, which would be 40% lower than 2019.

The carrier suspended daily flights to Rome, Beijing and Shanghai until April. He also reduced his connections to Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

Air Canada’s ad hoc change fee exemption applies to all fare classes, from economy to business. However, any difference in the ticket price will apply and “any residual value resulting from a lower fare will be lost,” said Air Canada.

WestJet is also experiencing turmoil, although it offers no flights to China – the apparent source of the epidemic – and only a handful of flights to Europe.

The Calgary carrier plans to cancel flights representing 12% “or more” of its flight capacity.

Discounts may include domestic, transatlantic and sun destinations from WestJet as well as flights to the United States.

Other new cost-cutting efforts include a discretionary spending freeze, a company-wide hiring freeze, and voluntary leave options.

The federal government also announced $ 1 billion in funding on Wednesday to help the country’s health care system cope with the growing number of new cases of coronavirus and to help workers in Canada who are forced to isolate themselves.

Company in this dispatch: (TSX: AC)

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