Air Canada’s chief executive officer says state ownership of airlines has been a “colossal failure” elsewhere in the world, adding that the company has no interest in offering the Canadian government an equity stake.
President and CEO Calin Rovinescu also says the airline is open to refunding customers for cancelled flights just as long as Ottawa offers an aid package that is “appropriate and reasonable.”
Rovinescu made his remarks while speaking with BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday (Nov. 18).
On the topic of refunds, the CEO said:
"[Transport Minister Marc Garneau] has made it clear that refunds would be required and, based on the size and scale of the program, we have no issue, no quarrel with that at all,” Rovinescu said.
Outside of offering high-interest loan packages and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada has not offered sector-specific financial support to the airline industry just yet.
Rovinescu told BNN that he has not seen any suggested terms from Ottawa so far.
He said any government aid package would have to be sizeable enough for the airline to agree on a deal.
“Our objective has been not only to survive, but to be competitive coming out of the pandemic,” Rovinescu told BNN. “We’re competing with carriers around the world that have been supported by their government, so we’d hope the terms would be on a reasonable basis.”
Rovinescu also expressed no interest in offering Ottawa a stake in Air Canada as part of any potential deal.
“State ownership of airlines has been a colossal failure elsewhere around the world and we’re certainly not advocating for it,” Rovinescu said.
In October, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblan said the Canadian government isn't ruling out the possibility of taking a stake in airlines as Ottawa figures out just how it can help the aviation sector amid the pandemic.
Speaking to CTV Question Period Host Evan Solomon, Leblanc said Canada’s ministers – Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, specifically – are looking at a “whole series of options” of what Canada might do to support aviation.
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