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Air Canada passengers 'baffled' by reasons they were denied compensation for flight delays – CBC.ca

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Kristin Radtke was stunned when Air Canada rejected her compensation request for a six-hour flight delay when travelling from Edmonton to Montreal on Christmas Day.

She thought her case was a slam-dunk because her fiancé and travel partner had already filed a claim on Jan. 1 for the same flight — and received $700. But when Radtke filed her claim almost two weeks later, Air Canada replied that her trip delay was due to a safety-related “technical fault” and didn’t warrant compensation. 

“I’m just baffled,” said Radtke, who lives in Edmonton. “We’re two identical passengers.”

She’s one of a half-dozen Air Canada passengers CBC News interviewed who question why they were denied compensation for delayed flights which took off after Dec. 15. 

The federal government introduced new regulations on Dec. 15, mandating that large airlines — such as Air Canada and WestJet — must pay up to $1,000 in compensation for a flight delay or cancellation that is within the airline’s control and not safety-related.

New regulations introduced on Dec. 15 require that large airlines must pay up to $1,000 in compensation for a flight delay or cancellation that is within the airline’s control and not safety-related. (CBC)

Before the new rules took effect, some industry experts expressed concern that airlines might try to fudge the reason for a flight delay to avoid paying compensation. 

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News the airline’s policy is to abide by the new regulations. He said he couldn’t comment on the three customer cases detailed in this story because they’re “under appeal.”

Which reason is it?

Radtke believes she deserves compensation not only because her fiancé got cash, but also because when the couple’s original flight was cancelled and had to be rebooked, Air Canada sent a text alert stating the culprit was “crew constraints.” 

According to the new regulations, flight delays caused by staffing issues are generally considered within an airline’s control and eligible for compensation. But when Radtke filed her claim, she was told her trip delay was caused instead by a safety-related technical issue.

“It’s either crew constraints or it isn’t,” she said. “How can the reason for a flight cancellation change?” 

Radtke filed a complaint with Air Canada on Jan. 22. Despite repeated calls and emails to the airline, she’s still waiting for a response, she said. 

“We kind of feel like we’re being stonewalled. It’s just immensely frustrating.”

Air Canada passenger Melissa Nickerson is also unhappy with the airline’s decision in her case. She and her husband were travelling from Chicago home to Calgary on Dec. 30 when their flight was cancelled and rebooked, resulting in a delay of more than 13 hours.

According to the new rules, large airlines must pay passengers $1,000 for applicable flight delays longer than nine hours. 

When their flight was cancelled, Nickerson and her husband got meal vouchers which stated the cancellation was “controllable.” Air Canada also sent a text alert blaming the mishap on “crew constraints.”

But when Nickerson filed for compensation, the airline rejected her claim, stating that her trip delay was instead due to a safety-related “technical fault.”

Melissa Nickerson received this message from Air Canada when her flight was cancelled. (Supplied by Melissa Nickerson)

“I was disappointed,” said Nickerson. “They were quoting a delay reason that had nothing to do with our flight.”

She filed a complaint with Air Canada on Jan. 22 and is still waiting for a response.

“I was expecting this should be an easy process and it’s cut and dried that I’d be getting compensation,” she said.

‘It’s vague’

Jennifer Janssen was so upset with the explanation Air Canada gave her for a delayed flight, she filed a suit against the airline last month in small claims court. 

“I was like, ‘This doesn’t seem right,'” said Janssen, who lives in Hamilton.

On Jan. 1, her flight from Gander, N.L., to Toronto was delayed by more than nine hours due to “crew availability,” according to Air Canada.

But when she filed for compensation for herself and her travel partner, the airline turned Janssen down, stating the delay was due to safety-related “scheduling issues.”

“It’s vague and it leaves a lot open to interpretation,” she said. “They’re leaving information out somewhere.” 

Jennifer Janssen and her boyfriend, Tyson Collins, believe they deserve compensation for a recent delayed Air Canada flight from Gander, N.L., to Toronto. (Submitted by Jennifer Janssen)

Canadian Automobile Association spokesperson Ian Jack said it’s hard to know if an airline’s explanation is valid when it’s lacking in detail. 

“People do deserve a cogent, logical response — if there is one. Otherwise the carriers are just going to see a lot of complaints going to the [Canadian Transportation Agency],” said Jack, whose organization took part in the consultation process for the new regulations. 

WestJet passenger Paul Walker has already filed a complaint with the CTA following a three-hour delay on a Jan. 16 flight from Winnipeg to Edmonton.

Walker had expected $400 for the delay, as laid out in the new rules. However, WestJet denied his compensation request, stating the culprit was “flight crew member delays from previous day events and outside of WestJet’s control.” 

Similar to other passengers, Walker finds the explanation unsatisfactory.

“It seems suspicious,” said Walker who lives in Winnipeg. “The reason they’re still giving is that it’s a flight crew delay, which is actually within their control.”

Paul Walker, right, and colleague Ryan Murray flew from Winnipeg to Edmonton to attend a conference. Their WestJet flight was delayed by three hours but the airline said the delay doesn’t warrant compensation. (Submitted by Paul Walker)

WestJet told CBC News it follows the new regulations and declined to comment on Walker’s case. 

The CTA said in an email that when passengers file a complaint about a flight delay, the airline involved will have to demonstrate why the delay doesn’t warrant compensation.

“If it were discovered that an airline had misrepresented the cause of a delay to the CTA, this would be taken very seriously.”

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Bitcoin hovers near 6-month high on ETF hopes, inflation worries

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Bitcoin hovered near a six-month high early on Monday on hopes that U.S. regulators would soon allow cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETF) to trade, while global inflation worries also provided some support.

Bitcoin last stood at $62,359, near Friday’s six-month high of $62,944 and not far from its all-time high of $64,895 hit in April.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to allow the first American bitcoin futures ETF to begin trading this week, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, a move likely to lead to wider investment in digital assets.

Cryptocurrency players expect the approval of the first U.S. bitcoin ETF to trigger an influx of money from institutional players who cannot invest in digital coins at the moment.

Rising inflation worries also increased appetite for bitcoin, which is in limited supply, in contrast to the ample amount of currencies issued by central banks in recent years as monetary authorities printed money to stimulate their economies.

But some analysts noted that, after the recent rally, investors may sell bitcoin on the ETF news.

“The news of a suite of futures-tracking ETFs is not new to those following the space closely, and to many this is a step forward but not the game-changer that some are sensing,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne, Australia.

“We’ve been excited by a spot ETF before, and this may need more work on the regulation front.”

 

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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China’s plunging construction starts reminiscent of 2015 downturn

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China’s September new  construction starts slumped for a sixth straight month, the longest spate of monthly declines since 2015, as cash-strapped developers put a pause on projects in the wake of tighter regulations on borrowing.

New construction starts in September fell 13.54% from a year earlier, the third month of double-digit declines, according to Reuters calculations based on January-September data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

That marks the longest downtrend since declines in March-August 2015, the last property malaise.

When the sector recovered in 2016 after authorities loosened their grip on purchases and development, tens of thousands of real estate firms borrowed heavily to build homes.

But as regulations tightened again this year, many of them have started to face a liquidity crunch, which was then worsened by sharply weaker demand due to tighter restrictions on speculative purchases.

Property sales by floor area dropped 15.8% in September, down for a third month, according to Reuters calculations based on the statistics bureau’s data.

The slowdown in the sector was also underscored by a 3.5% drop in property investments by developers in September, the first monthly decline since January-February last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

“All the data are poor,” said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst with property agency Centaline.

“Financing is hard, sales are tough, so of course, there has been no enthusiasm to build. For the first time in history, developers are encountering two blockages – blockages in sales and blockages in financing.”

The potential collapse of highly indebted real estate firms such as China Evergrande Group have raised concerns about systemic risks to the broader economy. The real estate sector accounts for a quarter of China’s gross domestic product.

Authorities will try to prevent problems at Evergrande from spreading to other real estate companies to avoid broader systemic risk, Yi Gang, governor of China’s central bank, said on Sunday.

On Friday, a central bank official said the spillover effect of Evergrande’s debt problems on the banking system was “controllable.”

“There is a likelihood that housing policies may loosen in the fourth quarter, and that would ease the pessimism in the property transaction data,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institution.

On Friday, representatives from 10 Chinese Property Companies met government regulators to ask for an “appropriate loosening” on policy restrictions, financial news outlet Yicai reported.

China’s real estate shares have fallen 22% so far this year. On Monday, they were down 2.6% as of 0300 GMT.

In the first nine months, property investment rose 8.8% from a year earlier, slowing from 10.9% growth seen in January-August.

Funds raised by China’s property developers grew 11.1%, slower than the 14.8% rise seen in the first eight months.

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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Saks Fifth Avenue ecommerce unit aims for IPO at $6 billion valuation – WSJ

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The ecommerce business of luxury department store  Saks OFF 5TH is preparing for an initial public offering and targeting a $6 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing sources.

The company is interviewing potential underwriters this week for an  IPO that could take place in the first half of next year, according to the report.

 

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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