Air Canada (TSX:AC) is giving cash refund for tickets on flights cancelled between February 1, 2020, and April 13, 2021. The last date to claim your refund is June 12. If you delay your refund request, you will either get a travel voucher or Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus. Air Canada is funding this cash refund from the $1.4 billion loans it received as a part of the bailout package. This loan is only intended for ticket refunds. If you do not claim the refund, that money will go to AC.
Who can claim a ticket refund from Air Canada?
The big question is, who can claim the refund? Many people believe they are not eligible for a refund because they did not book the flight tickets directly from Air Canada’s website or they bought nonrefundable tickets. Those tickets are cheap, because the traveller bears the risk of flight cancellation or booking cancellation.
Now, read carefully. AC did say that it refunded money to those who purchased refundable tickets. But the above refund is from the taxpayer money, as the government doesn’t want travellers to bear the cost of the travel ban it imposed.
So, if your travel dates were from February 1, 2020, to April 13, 2021, you can claim a cash refund even under the following circumstances:
- Your tickets are nonrefundable.
- You accepted a travel voucher or Aeroplan points for the above travel dates. But if you want, you can exchange it for a cash refund.
- You cancelled the tickets because of pandemic-related reasons, such as the airline denied you entry on the plane because you tested COVID positive.
- Air Canada cancelled the flight because of the pandemic.
But remember, you only have two days left to claim your refund.
How to make money from refund money
If you are claiming a refund, you can make money from Air Canada stock. If you look at the airline stock’s last year rally, it has surged 47%. The stock has another 30% upside, as the airline industry sees pent-up demand from leisure travellers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau aims to make the vaccine available to every Canadian by September to create herd immunity. And then he can consider easing quarantine requirements by adopting scientific methods. If things go as planned, AC stock could surge to $40.
In dollar terms, a round trip from Ontario to Montreal would cost you between $450 and $500. Even if you receive a $400 refund and you invest it in AC stock, it can become $520 in the next 12 months, representing a 30% upside.
However, this recovery rally comes with a risk of a fallback from another wave of the pandemic. The nature of the COVID-19 virus is that it mutates the moment cases come down. So far, the mutations that researchers have discovered are not immune to the vaccine. The vaccine is preventing the virus from becoming deadly for those who are infected.
If there is a mutant virus that renders the vaccine ineffective, everything will return to square one. Lockdowns and travel bans will return. However, AC stock won’t dip to the March 2020 levels of $15 as it has learned to survive the pandemic conditions. It will dip. But this time, the support will be around $24. No stock is without risk, but AC has a 30% upside.