Ukrainian refugees: Westjet blocks charity initiative, offers temporary aid | War in Ukraine
Rebecca Rider and Michael Garnett spent nearly two months in Poland and Ukraine helping refugees before launching their companion pass program.
Westjet Airline Ended Initiative by Calgary Couple Who Used Employee Companion Passes to Help Ukrainian Refugees coming to Canada. It is instead offering a 50% discount on plane tickets, but only until September 30; an offer that the couple finds insufficient.
Airline pilot Rebecca Rider and her husband Michael Garnett started a charity, Help from Canada, to help Ukrainian refugees.
They were able to bring to Canada almost 200 refugees using tickets from the employee companion pass program.
These tickets that allow boarding when there are places left on the flight (stand-by, in English) are provided for employees to distribute to family and friends. Only taxes and other fees are collected.
As they are donated annually in limited numbers, many of Rebecca Rider's colleagues have donated them to support her charitable work.
Thanks to these donations, we have helped more than 180 people to come to Canada and 197 refugees have been able to travel using these discounted tickets , she said.
Westjet, however, asked him to stop using companion passes for this reason. A spokeswoman for the company, Morgan Bell, explained that according to company policies these tickets are only intended for the relatives of employees.
Employee travel benefits are not designed for charitable or non-profit efforts because [other] WestJet programs are better suited, she says.
Westjet has decided to offer a 50% discount on plane tickets for Ukrainian refugees instead, but the offer ends on September 30. Michael Garnett, who has Ukrainian roots, is not happy with this compromise.
They offer us tickets at about three to four times the price we pay, so we are not happy with this offer. It's something, it's a starting point, but it's not going to bring many people here, he said.
With information from Lucie Edwardson