MONTREAL — Anticipating passenger demand for high-level cleanliness and safety protocols now and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada is launching Air Canada CleanCare+, which includes mandatory pre-flight passenger temperature checks.
Air Canada CleanCare+ also includes required health questionnaires, and seat assignment policies to allow for more personal space in Economy Class on all flights until June 30, 2020.
The new program was announced on the heels of Air Canada’s Q1 results. Like airlines around the world, Air Canada’s operations have been almost completely halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Q1 results included a $1.05 billion loss, compared to a profit of $345 million in Q1 2019.
“Our first quarter results reflect the severity and abruptness of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Air Canada, which started to be felt across the global airline industry in late January with the suspension by many carriers, including Air Canada, of services to China,” says Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO of Air Canada.
He says the impact was exacerbated in March with mandated social distancing, unprecedented government-imposed travel restrictions in Canada and around the world and the shutting down of economies.
In thanking Air Canada employees, he also expressed his support for the trade. “I also want to acknowledge the pandemic’s effects upon all of our other stakeholders, particularly those in the travel trade community. Be assured that we are resolutely committed to bringing our airline successfully through this crisis,” he said.
Rovinescu adds that Air Canada is projecting that it will take at least three years to recover to 2019 levels of revenue and capacity.
“We expect that both the overall industry and our airline will be considerably smaller for some time, which will unfortunately result in significant reductions in both fleet and employee levels. While it is not possible to predict the course of the pandemic globally or indeed the changes that will be required of the airline industry, our determination is to ensure that our company is positioned to emerge in the post-COVID-19 world as strong as possible and capitalize on the opportunities that will inevitably arise,” he said.
Capacity for Q2 for the airline is down 85 – 90% year over year.
Looking forward, not back, Air Canada says Air Canada CleanCare+ will provide passengers will added peace of mind in a difficult time.
“While we are eager to see the reopening of economies and the restart of commercial aviation, the safety of our customers and employees is Air Canada’s core value and we aim to establish the highest standards of hygiene, cleanliness and attention to public health guidelines,” says Rovinescu.
Through the Air Canada CleanCare+ program the airline says it will introduce the following measures by May 15:
- Passengers travelling on Air Canada flights will be subject to an infra-red temperature check at all airports. The non-invasive procedure will complement the existing government-mandated health questionnaire currently completed by all travellers to determine their fitness to fly. Customers who are deemed unfit to travel will be rebooked at no cost but be required to obtain medical clearance prior to travel. Air Canada says it is now the first airline in the Americas to administer pre-flight temperature checks system-wide.
- To promote more personal space in Economy Class aboard its aircraft, Air Canada will automatically block the sale of adjacent seats and cap the total number of seats sold for each flight. As a result, no customer in Economy Class will be required to sit immediately adjacent to another, unless they are required to do so to assist another customer with whom they are travelling. This policy will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2020.
- Air Canada will begin distributing care kits containing hand sanitizers and other health items to all customers.
- With the onset of COVID-19 the airline has strengthened its cabin grooming standards and will begin using electrostatic sprayers to ensure a deeper clean with hospital grade disinfectant. Air Canada was recognized by the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards for Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in North America.
Prior to Air Canada CleanCare+, Air Canada already had a number of measures in place in response to COVID-19. These will remain in effect and be included in the Air Canada CleanCare+ Program, including: requiring passengers to wear face coverings during their travel, including at check-in, during boarding and as directed while onboard its aircraft; PPE for employees; adapted check-in procedures; and temporary adjustments to on-board service.
Air Canada’s revised booking policies mean there is no change or cancellation fee for existing or new bookings. Passengers whose flights have been cancelled due to the impacts of COVID-19 can retain the unused amount of their ticket for up to 24 months.