Did Airlines Fail in their Duty to Refund Tickets for Cancelled Flights Due to the Pandemic?

BY Maxime Blanchard

In a Thomson Reuters article[1], our lawyer Maxime L. Blanchard comments on the Superior Court of Québec’s recent decision regarding a class action against airlines that had to cancel their flights because of the health measures implemented by the governments.

Due to the sanitary measures implemented by the governments to protect the population from COVID-19, including the closure of Canadian borders, many flights had to be cancelled. Several airlines refused to refund tickets, or delayed in doing so, citing their own conditions and instead offered travel credits for future bookings.

In the Lachaine c. Air Transat AT inc. decision, at the authorization stage of the class action, the Superior Court of Québec has addressed this issue which was highly publicized during the pandemic.

Preliminary Nature of the Application for Authorization

This decision serves as an important reminder that an application for authorization is of a preliminary nature only and does not, in itself, constitute a legal action, which will only take place following the filing of the motion to institute proceedings once the action has been authorized, if at all.

The impact of such distinction at the authorization stage can be significant in several ways. It may affect not only the claims that may be authorized, as in this case, but also, for example, the parties’ ability to get documentation from the opposing party. This concept should be remembered when assessing the rights and risks of a class action.

Read the full article published in Repères for a complete analysis of this decision.

[1] Maxime L. Blanchard, “Commentaire sur la décision Lachaine c. Air Transat AT Inc. – l’exécution volontaire au stade de la préautorisation”, Repères, August 2021, La référence, EYB2021REP3339.

Download the full article (in French only)

Contributing Advisors

Gilles Seguin