Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that bread sold by the fast food chain Subway contains so much sugar that it cannot be legally defined as bread.
The ruling came in a tax dispute brought by Bookfinders Ltd., an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products – including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches – were not liable for value-added tax.
A panel of judges rejected the appeal Tuesday, ruling that the bread sold by Subway contains too much sugar to be categorized as a “staple food,” which is not taxed.
“There is no dispute that the bread supplied by Subway in its heated sandwiches has a sugar content of 10% of the weight of the flour included in the dough, and thus exceeds the 2% specified,” the judgement read.
The law makes a distinction between “bread as a staple food” and other baked goods “which are, or approach, confectionery or fancy baked goods,” the judgement said.
Subway disagreed with the characterization in a statement.
“Subway’s bread is, of course, bread,” the company said in an email. “We have been baking fresh bread in our restaurants for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes.”
Bookfinders was appealing a 2006 decision by authorities who refused to refund value-added tax payments. Lower courts had dismissed the case before it reached the Supreme Court.
Subway said it was reviewing the latest tax ruling. It added that the decision was based on an outdated bread exemption set by the Irish government that was updated in 2012.
WestJet to provide refunds (not just credits) for flights cancelled due to pandemic – CBC.ca
WestJet says it will begin providing refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Calgary-based airline said it will begin contacting all eligible flyers with WestJet and Swoop on Nov. 2. It will begin with those whose flights were cancelled in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, to offer refunds in the original form of payment.
The process is expected to take six to nine months, the company said. It asked customers to wait to be contacted, in order to avoid overloading its call centre.
“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” said Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, in an emailed release.
“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID world they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment, and refunds.”
Sims said in a letter posted to the company’s website that since March, it has done everything it can to reduce costs in the face of a 95 per cent drop in demand.
WATCH | Airlines struggle and plead for aid amid stall in travel:
“Up until this point, quite plainly, the financial position of airlines around the world has been precarious,” Sims said.
“We went 72 days in a row where cancellations outstripped bookings, something that has not happened — ever — in our almost 25-year history. Thankfully, we are seeing bookings higher than cancellations now but still at a level that sees more than 140 of the 181 aircraft in our fleet parked and more than 4,000 WestJetters permanently laid off.”
The company said it’s the first national airline in the country to proactively begin refunding customers during the pandemic — a comment that Air Canada contested.
“Misleading statement! WestJet is just now catching up to our policy to refund refundable fares. We have already refunded over $1.2 billion in refundable fares to date,” Air Canada wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening.
Within 10 minutes of that tweet, more than a dozen replies from customers said they still had not received their refund.
CBC News has reached out to Air Canada for more information, and has yet to receive a response.
In June, both Air Canada and WestJet began offering refunds to some passengers whose flights originated outside of Canada. WestJet offered refunds on flights originating from or landing in the U.S. or U.K., and Air Canada offered refunds to those whose flights originated in the EU — but not in Canada.
Air Canada made the most recent U.S. Air Travel Consumer Report, released in August, for having the most refund complaints of any foreign airline the previous month. It had 1,705 complaints, while WestJet had 346.
The airline industry in Canada has lost billions due to border closures and grounded flights during COVID-19.
Up until now, most Canadian airlines have offered travel vouchers to passengers with cancelled flights. The vouchers were redeemable for two years.
The lack of cash refunds have led to petitions and even possible class action lawsuits against the industry.
Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations state that if an airline is unable to provide a reasonable alternative itinerary, refunds “must be paid by the method used for the original payment and to the person who purchased the ticket or additional service.”
But the Canadian Transportation Agency said in April that, given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, vouchers were a reasonable alternative to refunds.
WestJet’s move comes days after opposition parties demanded the federal government ensure passengers receive refunds as a condition of any airline bailouts.
Carriers’ requests for financial assistance from Ottawa have failed to materialize in funding while the United States and some European countries have offered billions in financial aid, with strings attached including partial government ownership and emissions reduction commitments.
Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said WestJet’s move was a step in the right direction.
“Canadians deserve refunds for cancelled trips as a result of [COVID-19],” he wrote on Twitter.
WestJet’s website states those who cancelled their own flights or purchased basic fares will not be refunded.
Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs said the six to nine months WestJet estimates it will take to process refund requests is excessive, calling it “ridiculous” and a “non-starter.”
He also said the refund exclusions violate consumer rights.
“It doesn’t matter whether it was a business class elite fare or a basic fare, they have to refund it equally,” Lukacs said, citing provincial legislation and regulation.
WestJet had started to bleed money from advance ticket purchases even before Wednesday’s announcement.
Of the nearly 16,300 guests who requested chargebacks from their credit card issuers between March and Aug. 19, only 11 per cent were denied, according to an affidavit WestJet regulatory affairs director Lorne Mackenzie filed to the Federal Court in August.
Certification hearings on a class action against WestJet, Air Canada and Transat AT are to begin in Federal Court on Nov. 2, the same day WestJet’s policy goes into effect.
WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic – Global News
WestJet is the first Canadian airline to provide cash refunds for all flights. It had previously offered refunds for specific flights only, with future flight credit available for the majority of cancelled flights.
In an emailed statement, the airline said starting Monday, Nov. 2, eligible passengers will be contacted “proactively,” a process that will start with those whose flights were cancelled by the airline at the start of the pandemic, starting with trips booked for March.
“The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests,” WestJet said.
The airline said it also expects an “administrative backlog” as the process gets underway, and asked customers to be patient, and wait to be contacted rather than contacting the airline themselves.
Those looking for refunds for trips booked through WestJet Vacations are asked to continue following the process already in place.
“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said in a news release.
“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID-19 world, they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.
“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All program since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, Nov. 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by WestJet and Swoop.”
WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic
In a blog post on the WestJet website, Sims said the airline has been faced with a 95 per cent drop in demand, adding that for 72 days in a row, cancellations outnumbered bookings — a first in the company’s 25-year history.
Now, bookings are once again higher than cancellations, WestJet said, but still not on par with what they were before the pandemic hit.
More than 140 of WestJet’s 181 planes are currently parked, Sims said, and more than 4,000 employees have been laid off.
The airline also suspended its service in Atlantic Canada earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as making the service “unviable.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
WestJet becomes first to offer direct refunds for travel cancelled because of coronavirus – CTV Toronto
WestJet says it will now offer refunds to passengers whose travel plans were cancelled because of COVID-19.
The Calgary-based airline announced Wednesday it was changing the method it would use to offer refunds for cancelled flights. It says it will now provide those affected with reimbursements directly to their original form of payment.
The company says the move is to reassure its customers in the post-COVID world.
“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID world they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds,” said Ed Sims, president and CEO of WestJet, in a statement.
All customers who had flights cancelled by WestJet and Swoop as a result of the pandemic are eligible.
“Through the efforts of thousands of WestJetters, we are confident that we can now begin providing refunds proactively. We are the first national airline in Canada to do so.”
Starting Nov. 2, the company will be reaching out to affected guests but cautions there is a backlog, so it will take at least six to nine months for all the refunds to be processed.
FEDERAL WAGE SUBSIDY ‘A LIFELINE’
Sims said the company would likely be in a much different situation if it wasn’t for the support of all the levels of government. He said Ottawa’s Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) made it possible for the company to weather the storm brought on by the pandemic.
The Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada, he says, also realized early on that it would be “economically unviable” to provide immediate refunds.
“Airlines play a critical role in the travel and tourism food chain, bringing tens of millions of people to Canada each year; filling our hotels, restaurants, convention centres and tourist attractions. We reunite loved ones around the world. The greatest action the government could take as we begin to recover is to reassess the aviation infrastructure as a whole. While the industry, and Canadians, struggle to get back on their feet, WestJet have today taken a further step to accelerate our country’s economic recovery.”
Further information can be found on the airline’s website.
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