Quebec Superior Court Greenlights Class-action Lawsuit Against Air Canada Over Excessive Fuel Surcharges

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A judge in Quebec’s Superior Court has authorized a class-action lawsuit against Air Canada over excessive fuel surcharges levied on customers.

The lawsuit, approved Monday, argues the country’s largest airline “illegally overcharged its customers” by more than doubling the cost of fuel on some flights.

The lawyers representing the lead plaintiffs in the matter outlined that Air Canada vastly overcharged customers through individual fuel surcharges when compared to the actual fuel bills the carrier had to pay their suppliers.

CBC reported about it when the the court decision came down on Monday.

… Michael Vathilakis, the petitioners’ lawyer, said Air Canada misrepresented the stated purpose of the surcharge, which was to partially offset the fluctuating price of jet fuel.

“What Air Canada did was represented to passengers that they were collecting this amount in order to offset volatility, when in fact the allegations are that they were in many cases actually reaping a real profit on it,” Vathilakis said in a phone interview.

“In multiple cases, they charged an amount that was equal to or higher than the entire cost of fuel for the flight.”

The lawsuit cites one example in which Air Canada allegedly charged business and economy passengers 105 per cent more than the fuel cost on a flight to Paris in January 2014.

Each economy passenger on that flight allegedly paid $238 in fuel surcharges alone — $163 more than they should have according to Air Canada’s contract definition of the charge.

The airline took in $73,878 in fuel supplements on the flight, rather than the $23,164 it should have charged, according to the lawsuit.

The suit states Air Canada’s contract with consumers allows it to charge them up to 33 per cent more than the cost of fuel.

The class action concerns customers in Quebec who bought international tickets to destinations outside the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean between April 2012 and November 2014.

Air Canada said it disagrees with the allegations. …

Consumers can expect the class-action soon to be made public by the representing law firm and those eligible will be able to join.

This lawsuit shows once more that the fuel surcharges are nothing but a scam. They have been implemented after 9/11 when airlines were losing a lot of money (many went bankrupt) and fuel prices skyrocketed during and following the Iraq war.

Even after the situation for airlines improved dramatically, airlines have gotten so used to their extra dough that they continued to levy surcharges for fuel on passengers despite returning to record profits.

Overcharging affects both revenue and award passengers if the frequent flyer program of their choice charges these in full. Some do and some don’t.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is soon another lawsuit outside of Quebec filed against Air Canada. Affected passengers can obviously file their own legal proceedings against the airline as well.

I’m not surprised that Air Canada (and other carriers for that matter) make big bucks by overcharging even though it’s actually against the contract of carriage. Many airlines have since renamed fuel surcharges into “International Surcharge” whatever that’s supposed to mean. That way they can’t be tackled on the basis of actual fuel prices.

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