The federal government's announcement that airlines can only qualify for aid if they refund clients for cancelled flights could be disastrous for many travel agents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

Red Deer travel agent fears losing all her 2020 income due to Ottawa’s decision

Independent travel agents are bearing the brunt from federal aid policy for airlines

Red Deer travel agent Shauna Sharp has worked long hours to help clients rebook their flights and overseas weddings during these past eight pandemic months — with virtually no pay.

Now the federal government has announced that Canadian airlines can only qualify for federal government aid if they refund clients for cancelled flights from last spring, instead of providing travel vouchers.

Sharp, of Rock-It Travel, thinks this is “great” for many of her clients, who have waited months to receive these refunds.

“I’m glad for them,” she said.

But, the new federal policy could be disastrous for her and many other travel agents.

Sharp explained she will be forced to return the only commissions she has earned all year once the cancelled flights are refunded, according to pre-existing contracts with airline and tour companies.

As an independent travel agent, she doesn’t qualify for CERB or other government relief payments to those who have lost income because of COVID-19.

Travel agents usually collect commissions of between four and 15 per cent from companies once flights, tours or cruises have been paid in full.

Having to return commissions made last spring, in a year when Sharp has made no other income, but still spent many days rebooking overseas weddings — will be ruinous, said the travel agent.

The married mother of three said 75 per cent of independent travel agents working out of their homes are women.

“Most are working moms or single parents and this is all the income they get.”

It’s unfair to make these women declare bankruptcy by taking away all the income they have made so far in 2020 — especially when they have already worked hard to attain it, added Sharp.

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies has been lobbying the government on behalf of agents, such as Sharp.

On its website, the association states: “The COVID 19 pandemic caused mass cancellations at an unprecedented rate last spring. Based on consumer feedback, ACTA and the travel industry understands the desire to provide refunds to consumers on COVID-19 affected bookings wherever possible.”

However, the assoication is also aware that Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s announcement that consumer refunds will be a condition of any Canadian airline or travel industry aid package, will cause hardship for many of its members.

“ACTA is opposed to all commission recalls,” the association states on its website — and is calling on the government to cover commissions as part of any aid package.

So far, Sharp hasn’t heard any response from Ottawa. But she said she’s met with local MPs, who weren’t aware of what the federal announcement will mean for travel agents.

“They were shocked.”

Air Travel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read