WestJet announced Wednesday it will restore flights to the communities of Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney and Quebec City after service was suspended as a result of COVID-19. A WestJet flight from Calgary arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, N.S. on Monday, July 6, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan)

WestJet to refund customers with flights cancelled due to pandemic

WestJet will start giving refunds to customers with flights cancelled from any time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Nov. 2, WestJet is going to contact eligible customers, starting with those with flights that were cancelled at the beginning of the pandemic in March, according to a press release from the Calgary-based airline company. The refunds will apply to customers with flights cancelled from WestJet and Swoop.

“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” Ed Sims, WestJet president and chief executive officer, said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”

WestJet said that they expect the refund process to take six to nine months in order through all eligible customers, and asked customers to wait until they are contacted by the airline company in order to not overload their contact centre. 

In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that WestJet is taking a good step in the right direction.

“Canadians deserve refunds for cancelled trips as a result of COVID-19,” he added.

WestJet Struggles

In a blog posted on WestJet’s website, Sims said that WestJet has done everything they can to streamline their operations in the face of a 95 per cent drop in demand.

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

Sims added that though WestJet is seeing higher bookings than cancellations now, more than 140 of the 181 aircraft in their fleet are parked and over 4,000 employees remain permanently laid off. 

The airline company recently cut services to Eastern Canada due to declining revenues caused by the pandemic.

With files from CBC News and Sarah Rieger

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