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Airlines’ ‘bait-and-switch’ strategy lures customers to flights that never take off

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OTTAWA – Rob Przybylski and Courtney Ross were slated to wrap up the month on a Costa Rican beach, sipping sugarcane cocktails with friends and family as they celebrated their wedding.

Instead, the Oshawa, Ont., duo say they and their 84 guests are out more than $216,000 after their Sunwing Airlines vacation package was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They have basically told us that refunds are not an option,” said Przybylski, 35.

Like most Canadian airlines, Sunwing does not reimburse passengers for flights cancelled by the airline, instead offering travel vouchers valid for two years.

The couple’s original booking in April had been called off by the carrier as the virus shut down global air travel. Their destination, a Planet Hollywood resort on the Pacific Ocean, offered a refund, but Sunwing did not, he said. So they rebooked the nuptial getaway for Nov. 27.

Sunwing cancelled the second flight last month, he said.

“We have 80 people that are out money, and a lot of them aren’t working now,” including his fiancee for much of this year, Przybylski said.

“My mom is the perfect example. She hasn’t travelled in 30 years. What is she going to do with a credit?”

Despite minuscule travel demand, Canadian airlines continue to schedule tens of thousands of flights per month, only to cancel the vast majority of them several weeks before takeoff.

The approach can leave passengers with a drastically changed itinerary or no flight at all, giving them little choice but to accept vouchers they may never use.

Air Canada cut more than 27,000 flights, or 70 per cent, from its November schedule between Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, according to figures from aviation data firm Cirium. It cut another 2,000 by the end of October.

WestJet Airlines, which recently began to offer refunds for cancelled flights, in contrast to its competitors, slashed its November schedule by about 12,400 flights, or 68 per cent, in one week last month. Air Transat scrapped 63 per cent of its flights for November in the same week, leaving it with 123 – down to 100 as of last week.

Comparable schedule cuts occurred in October and September.

“It’s called bait and switch,” said John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University and head of its Global Aviation Leadership program.

The strategy is a response to a shift in customer behaviour, an attempt to woo wary travellers with ample flight options before drastically undersold seats prompt a scheduling cull.

“The industry cross their fingers and hope people buy, that they all of a sudden get this insane urge to fly,” Gradek said, calling the practice “deceptive.”

“’Cynical’ is probably too light of a word,” he said. “It borders on the edge of misleading advertising, that you’re promoting and offering for sale stuff that you know there’s a high probability will not be what you’re actually offering to the customer.”

Carriers deny there is anything untoward about recent schedule gutting.

“Airline schedules have always been subject to change,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email, noting the company has had to cut capacity by more than 90 per cent since March.

“In ordinary circumstances we would absorb temporary downturns in demand,” said WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell. But plummeting business has compelled “difficult decisions which include adjusting the schedule more frequently than normal.”

Bell said WestJet retains a robust schedule until the last minute to accommodate potential spikes in demand, such as the one after last month’s announcement that international travellers arriving at the Calgary airport can now forgo the mandated 14-day quarantine if they take a COVID-19 test.

Sunwing did not respond to questions Friday.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau called the situation “complicated,” saying he sympathizes with customers.

“I encourage the airlines to repay passengers if they can. At the same time, some of those airlines are in deep difficulty in terms of their own ability to continue to function if they were having to provide refunds to all of the customers.”

Air Canada held on to more than $2.4 billion in advance ticket sales as of July 31, a hefty sum to return after its revenues dropped 95 per cent year over year in its second quarter.

Travellers have a right to reimbursement for a service that was paid for but never rendered, regardless of airlines’ financial woes, say opposition MPs and consumer advocates.

The Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebecois have demanded refund requirements as a condition of any aid package to the industry.

Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said Friday the government is “behaving like a branch of Air Canada.”

“The minister of transport for seven months, since the beginning of the crisis, has essentially shrugged his shoulders any time the need for passenger reimbursement has come up,” NDP transport critic Niki Ashton said in an interview.

The Canadian Transportation Agency said in March that airlines can issue travel credit instead of refunds for cancelled trips in the “current context,” though the agency later clarified that the online statement was “not a binding decision” and that reimbursements depend in part on the contract between airline and passenger.

European and U.S. authorities have demanded airlines reimburse travellers, on top of the strings attached to aid that range from limiting dividends and executive bonuses to cutting carbon emissions and carving out ownership stakes for government.

Back in Oshawa, far from the sands of a Costa Rican resort, Rob Przybylski took stock.

“I know I’m not the only one in this situation. The biggest thing for me is to get my money back for my guests.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2020.

Source: – CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News

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7 Reasons Why America Loves Doing Business with Canada

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Canada is one of the United States’ most important trading partners. According to the United States Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US exports over $300B worth of goods and services to Canada annually. It also imports over $300B worth of goods and services from the country every year.

In fact, the trade relationship between the two North American countries is the biggest in the world. The two nations have traded for over 100 years. And a strong trade relationship is prosperous for both countries.

So, what makes Canada such an excellent trading partner for the United States? Here are a few good reasons:

1. Geographical Location

Canada shares a large border with the United States. Trading with Canada is easy by road, boat, or air. Most of the economic hotspots in Canada like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are just a short flight away from an American city.

2. Manufacturing Strengths

Canada has some exceptional exports thanks to its vast manufacturing strengths. Here are a few of its two products:

  • Non-renewable Energy: Canada’s non-renewable energy exports like oil and gas are a significant part of its economy. Although falling gas prices have impacted this sector, Canada continues to depend on its gas and oil exports.
  • Composite Manufacturing: You’ll find plenty of world-class options if you’re looking for advanced composite manufacturing in Canada regardless of your industry. The Canadian composite manufacturing industry serves many national and international clients in sectors such as defence, transportation, marine, aerospace, medical, industrial, energy, home appliances, construction, and more.
  • Vehicle: Canada has a renowned automotive sector, producing light trucks, crossovers, SUVs, etc., with its technologically advanced factories. 95% of Canada’s automotive exports go to the United States.
  • Aluminum: The Great White North produces some of the best quality aluminum in the world. The United States happens to be Canada’s biggest importer of aluminum.
  • Meat and Dairy: Canada produces meat, beef, poultry, and dairy known for its quality. Unlike some countries, Canada doesn’t use harmful hormones in its meat industry.

3. Good Tax Treaties

Canada has many provisions that make business favourable for American companies. For example, a non-resident corporation that does not otherwise have a permanent establishment (PE) in Canada may do business without paying income tax on its profits. Canada also offers favourable corporate taxes, especially compared to the United States.

Aside from federal incentives, many provinces offer provincial incentives to do business in Canada. For example, many American films and TV shows are shot in Toronto because of lucrative tax enticements.

4. Favourable Exchange Rates

Not only is the Canadian dollar stable, but it usually hovers 20% lower than the United States. The favourable exchange rate makes it cost-effective for the United States to import goods and services from Canada.

However, the exchange rate isn’t so low that it discourages Canadians from travelling to the United States or buying American products. Many economists consider the exchange rate to be in the sweet spot.

5. Similar Culture

Canada speaks the same language, eats the same food, plays the same sports, and consumes the same entertainment. A similar coculture without language barriers makes it easier for Americans to do business with Canada.

Of course, there are some parts of Canada where French is the most popular language. Likewise, Spanish is more prevalent in certain places in the United States. However, these issues are easily overcome with business cards, translators, and technology.

6. Prominent Tech Industry

Many American technology companies are doing business with Canada because of the country’s prominence on the tech stage. For example, Toronto produces more tech occupations than the Bay Area, New York, and even Silicon Valley.

Toronto also has over 2,000 startups and over 14,000 tech companies. In the MaRS Center, Canada also has one of the world’s largest innovation hubs. Canada is also the first nation in the world to develop a national AI strategy. There are over 500 international AI firms in the country. The world’s biggest concentration of AI startups is in Canada.

Besides the national AI strategy, there is plenty of other support for tech development in the country that’s attractive to the United States. Canada invested $900m in high-tech innovation and funded startup incubators in 2015.

Additionally, Canada offers many tax breaks to companies for research and development. It also provides special visa programs for investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry.

7. Qualified Labour Pool

Canada has the second-highest tertiary education levels worldwide for people between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada’s highly skilled workforce stands at nearly 1.5 million people. Canada’s tech talent is also ranked highly for diversity.

These are just some of the many reasons why the United States enjoys doing business with Canada. Even with the economic climate changing, you can expect the partnership between the two countries to stand the test of time.

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10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 2

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Last week I provided 5 suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile, which in 2021 is a non-negotiable must-have for job seekers, to stand out. The suggestions were:

 

  1. Add a headshot
  2. Create an eye-catching headline
  3. Craft an interesting summary
  4. Highlight your experience
  5. Use visual media

 

I’ll continue with my next 5 suggestions:

 

  1. Customize your URL

 

Your LinkedIn URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some random numbers and letters (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-kossovan-647e3b49). Customizing your profile URL (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickkossovan/) makes your profile search engine friendly; therefore, you’re easier to find. As well a customized URL invites the person searching to make some positive assumptions about you:

 

  • You’re detail oriented.
  • You’re technologically savvy.
  • You understand the power of perception (Image is everything!).

 

James Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, is to have said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

 

To change your profile URL, go to the right side of your profile. There you’ll find an option to edit your URL. Use this option to make your URL concise and neat.

 

  1. Make connections

 

The more connections you have increases the likelihood of being found when hiring managers and recruiters, looking for potential candidates with your background, search on LinkedIn. Envision your number of connections as ‘the amount of gas in your tank.’

 

At the very least, you should aim to get over 500 connections. Anything below 500 LinkedIn will indicate your number of connections as an exact number (ex. 368). Above 500 connections, LinkedIn simply shows you have 500+ connections. Getting to 500 implies you’re a player on LinkedIn.

 

As much as possible, connect with individuals you know personally, have worked with, met in a professional capacity (tradeshow, conference), is in your city/region and industry/profession. If you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met, send a note with your request explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect. (This’ll be my topic in next week’s column.)

 

  1. Ask for recommendations and skill endorsements

 

This is vital to making your profile stand out! Employers want to know that others think of your work.

 

When asking for a recommendation, or skill endorsements, think of all the people you’ve worked the past. Don’t just think of your past bosses; also think of colleagues, vendors, customers — anyone who can vouch for your work and professionalism.

 

Instructions on how to ask for, and give, a recommendation, can be found by going to the LinkedIn ‘Help’ field (Located by clicking on the drop-down arrow below the ‘Me’ icon in the upper right-hand corner.) and typing ‘Requesting a recommendation.’ Do the same for skill endorsements.

 

TIP: It’s good karma to write recommendations, and endorse skills, in return and to give unsolicited.

 

  1. Keep your profile active

 

LinkedIn is not simply an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to be constantly active (at least 3 times per week). Write posts and articles. Check out what is being posted, especially by your connections. Like and share posts that resonate with you. Engage with thoughtful comments that’ll put forward your expertise.

 

Join groups that align with your industry and professional interests. Groups are an excellent way to meet like-minded professionals with whom to network and share ideas and best practices.

 

  1. Check your LinkedIn profile strength

 

It’s in LinkedIn’s interest that you’re successful using their platform. Therefore, they’ve created a ‘Profile Strength Meter’ to gauge how robust your profile is. Basically, this gauge tells you completion level of your profile. Using the tips, you’ll be given, keep adding to your profile until your gauge rates you “All-Star.” For instructions on how to access your ‘Profile Strength Meter,’ use the LinkedIn’ Help’ field.

 

The 10 tips I offered is a starting point for building a LinkedIn profile that WOWs! Jobseekers need to make the most of their profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell their skills, and validate their accomplishments. Make it easy for the reader to get a feel for who you are professionally.

_________________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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Canadian National beats Canadian Pacific with $33.6 billion Kansas City bid

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U.S. railway operator Kansas City Southern said on Thursday that it had accepted Canadian National Railway Co’s $33.6 billion acquisition offer, upending a $29 billion deal with its competitor Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

The development, first reported by Reuters, gives Canadian Pacific five business days to make a new offer for Kansas City Southern. Were Canadian Pacific to table a new offer, a bidding war could ensue.

Canadian Pacific had previously announced a deal to buy Kansas City Southern on March 21, before Canadian National said it had submitted a higher bid on April 20. The headline price in Canadian National’s cash-and-stock bid remains $325 per share as originally announced, though the company offered more of its shares to compensate for a decline in its stock price.

Canadian National has offered to cover the $700 million break-up fee Kansas City Southern will owe Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. It will also pay Kansas City Southern $1 billion if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) rejects a voting trust structure it has put forward to complete the deal.

“We believe that Canadian Pacific’s negotiated agreement with Kansas City is the only true end-to-end Class I combination that is in the best interests of North American shippers and communities,” a Canadian Pacific spokeswoman said.

Canadian Pacific and larger rival Canadian National are in a race to take over the U.S. railroad operator, which would create the first direct railway linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Either of them acquiring Kansas City Southern would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada, as supply chains recover from COVID-19 pandemic-led disruptions.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year that removed the threat of trade tensions, which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The STB last week approved the voting trust for Canadian Pacific’s proposed acquisition. Canadian National has offered an identical arrangement.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Aurora Ellis and Richard Chang)

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