TORONTO — Air Canada’s package from the federal government, including protection for travel agent commissions, is being applauded by agent organizations ACTA and ACITA who were instrumental in alerting the government to the retail travel sector’s plight.
The package, which was announced yesterday, April 12, is valued at $5.879 billion and is being offered on the condition that Air Canada offers refunds to all eligible passengers. Notably, the airline will not be retracting agency sales commission on refunded fares.
The protection of commissions, of which up to $200 million were at risk of being recalled prior to yesterday’s announcement, has long been advocated by both ACTA and ACITA.
“Our messages have been heard!” said a jubilant Wendy Paradis, President of ACTA. “We are very pleased that the government has heard our messages loud and clear about commission recalls, and that it has recognized the integral and important role that travel agents play in the industry.”
ACTA has been working closely with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport teams over the past several months to ensure travel agents and travel agencies were included in any airline relief package. It has also had “very positive” meetings with Air Canada, said Paradis. She added that more details are coming, including the status of commissions already recalled, but that yesterday’s announcement was very encouraging.
“We want to thank the government for recognizing the devastating effect recalling commissions would have had on travel agents. And we want to thank all in the travel agency community who have been tirelessly lobbying for this outcome,” she said.
ACITA, which had a zoom call with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on March 30 to discuss key agent concerns, received a call from the Minister of Transport’s office yesterday afternoon, ahead of the Air Canada announcement. According to Brenda Slater, ACITA’s co-founder, the call was to inform the organization that its request for commission protection was going to be met.
“The press conference was the cumulation of 10 months of ACITA’s advocacy, meeting with over 200 Members of Parliament, Members of the Senate and Policy Advisors,” said Slater. “We are over the moon that the Hon. Chrystia Freeland mentioned that the protection of travel advisors’ commissions was a significant piece of the deal.”
Shortly after yesterday’s news, ACITA was also advised that commission protection extended to Air Canada Vacations.
“We would like to thank every single person that made a call, wrote an email, listened to our story and made this happen,” concluded Slater.