Calgary International Airport has apologized for moving parking stalls reserved for those with disabilities and setting up a Lexus marketing campaign in their place.
The pavement in the parking spots close to the terminal had recently been painted to indicate they were reserved for drivers of the luxury car. New stalls for those with disabilities were displaced to the row just behind.
The issue was initially brought to the airport's attention by a man who saw the stalls being painted while he was dropping off his mother, said Jody Moseley, the Calgary Airport Authority's senior director of corporate communications and stakeholder relations.
It wasn't long before outrage started spreading on social media.
Moseley said Lexus-branded stalls throughout the parkade, including the designated disabled ones, are being returned to their previous states.
"The airport apologizes for even considering looking at these spots. Accessibility is important to us," she said Tuesday. "I think clearly we didn't put enough thought into the impact that would have on our passengers and we apologize."
The accessible spots that were added in the next row will remain, meaning there will be more spots reserved for people with disabilities than before.
The airport authority is also apologizing to Lexus Canada, which it says played no role in picking which parking spots were used in the campaign.
Lexus Canada said in a statement it asked the airport to correct the situation as quickly as possible and offered a mea culpa of its own.
"In the future, we will more carefully scrutinize the details of these types of marketing campaigns," said Michael Bouliane, manager of corporate communications for the car company.
"We were truly embarrassed by this mistake. It shouldn't have happened and we are taking steps to make sure that it doesn't happen again."
Moseley said the Calgary Airport Authority does not receive funding from any level of government and marketing campaigns like the one with Lexus are a way to bring in money.
"There is quite a bit of pressure to find revenue to ensure that we can do what we need to do and build and develop the airport," she said.
"We're always looking at opportunities to minimize the direct impact to our airlines and our passengers and look at different revenue sources."
The Edmonton International Airport launched a similar marketing campaign with Lexus last year but Traci Bednard, vice president of market development for the airport, said it did not displace any spots reserved for those with disabilities.