TORONTO — In a video posted on social media, Air Canada’s President and CEO Calin Rovinescu says that the airline is doing all that it can to bring Canadians abroad home and to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Noting how the COVID-19 pandemic is “affecting the very essence of our way of life” and ravaging economies globally, “especially in our industry, which was virtually closed overnight,” Rovinescu highlighted the many ways Air Canada has been impacted by the “onerous and often impossible travel restrictions” that governments around the world have imposed without any notice or planning.
“Starting in April, we’ve cut our system capacity by nearly 80%, we’re grounding more than 175 airplanes and we’re going from 105 international cities to five,” he says. “Dismantling this magnificent network that we built over a decade is very hard to watch.”
Though the airline has dramatically cut its schedule, Rovinescu adds that throughout the month of April, it plans to keep open international air bridges to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong to give Canadians abroad travel options. Air Canada has put in place temporary one-way fares to Canada to help those still stranded.
He also notes that Air Canada is going from servicing 53 U.S. airports to 12, largely to continue service to various key U.S. business centres, to keep supply chains going and to help Canadians return home.
Domestically, Air Canada is reducing service from 64 airports to 40 across the country, in each province.
“We need to continue connecting essential service,” he says, adding that Air Canada is working 24/7 with governments, embassies and regulators. “We’re doing what we can to bring frightened Canadians home from around the world and to keep moving necessary goods and essential supplies.”
To keep travellers and its crew safe, Air Canada has temporarily suspended most of its onboard services in line with health authority guidelines. It has also partnered with a company that monitors epidemics globally in real time.
For customers whose flights have been cancelled, including at Air Canada Vacations, Rovinescu assured that they’ll receive a full credit valid for 24 months, with no requirement to contact the airline directly. He notes that due to the unprecedented nature of the situation, contact centre wait times are elevated. As such, he reminds customers of Air Canada’s online self-service tools to manage their travel themselves.
“I understand that these are profoundly unsettling times. We’re doing all that we can to maintain a skeleton service as we prepare for the eventual resumption of full service,” he says. “I look forward to seeing you aboard our aircraft in better times.”
For more information, go to aircanada.com, which is being updated regularly.