Air Transat of Montreal is facing allegations of ethnic profiling by some 50 Hungarian passengers who allege they were prevented from boarding flights from Budapest to Toronto for being ethnic Roma. The airline is the only Canadian carrier with direct flights from Budapest to Toronto.
Through their legal counsel, representing the rights group NEKI, the passengers are seeking a refund on the cost of their flights, which the airline refuses claiming the tickets are non-refundable. Despite having the required entry visas to Canada, the airline asserts the passenger claims are unfounded and that the burden lies with travellers to satisfy their travel worthiness.
In one written explanation received by a passenger from the airline, Air Transat wrote that Canadian federal officials screening passengers at the Budapest airport « determined that you and your party were apparently lacking appropriate documentation, and consequently advised Air Transat to deny you boarding. »
Under policies implemented by the former Conservative government, Canada has a history of claims of individual ethnic profiling carried out by CBSA liaison officers who assist airlines with security screening at sensitive points of departure to Canada. Hungary’s Roma community frequently claims refugee protection under Canada’s immigration and refugee protection laws. Canada’s refugee levels plummeted under the former Harper government.