Transat suspending flights out of Toronto Jan. 28 through April 30, offering refunds

MONTREAL — Transat has sent out a notice to its travel agent partners saying it is suspending its flights out of Toronto for the remainder of the 2020 – 2021 winter season, and that passengers with cancelled flights who paid for their flight or vacation package with cash or credit card will receive a full refund.

The notice reads: “In light of the continuing challenges the travel industry is facing, Transat has made the difficult decision to suspend all flight operations from Toronto for the remainder of our winter season effective January 28 – April 30, 2021.”

Transat says passengers affected by these cancellations who paid for their flight or vacation package with cash or credit card will receive a full refund.

In summer 2020 Transat announced the cancellation of its 2020 – 2021 winter sun program out of Western Canada, setting off a wave of refunds and, for travel agents, commission recalls.

WestJet, and then WestJet Vacations, announced refunds as well, in October 2020, albeit with limited qualifying dates.

On Nov. 8 then-Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the federal government was working on a financial assistance package for Canada’s airlines, with details to come. No further details have been given. Garneau said any airline bailout would be contingent on passengers receiving refunds. Canada’s travel agents face up to $200 million in commission recalls with mass refunds in the wake of the pandemic.

Transat says that if the form of payment was a Future Travel Credit, the credit will be reinstated. In either situation agents do not have to contact Transat as the files will be adjusted automatically.

“Please be assured that passengers currently in destination will be rebooked on flights returning to Canada. Agencies / agents will receive notices specific to files that are affected,” says Transat.

The travel industry, already in dire straits after more than 10 months of travel restrictions and negatively impacted demand amid the pandemic, has taken another round of debilitating hits in recent weeks with the PCR test requirement, which took effect Jan. 7, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s messaging to Canadians to cancel their winter sun trips, with warnings of difficulties getting home, and confirmation that new stricter travel measures, including the possibility of hotel quarantine measures, will be coming in the days to come.

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