MONTREAL — A new message from Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu at Air Canada’s site sums it up: “The airline industry has always been a fast-changing one and these times are no different.”
Yesterday Air Canada announced that it is temporarily suspending all Italy flights until at least May 1 following a drop in demand as the number of coronavirus cases in that country climb, the second highest outside of China.
The news comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) today officially declared the outbreak a pandemic, now in 114 countries.
Italy first quarantined its northern region including Milan and Venice, and then on March 9 extended the quarantine and travel ban to the entire country.
The last Air Canada flight to Rome took off from Toronto last night, March 10. Today, March 11, the final Canada-bound flight will come back, to Montreal.
Air Canada has also updated its suspension timelines for Beijing and Shanghai, Toronto-Hong Kong and Toronto-Seoul.
The carrier is also temporarily halting its Calgary-Tokyo Narita service.
“It’s important that we be nimble and respond quickly and effectively to developments around the world while maintaining our commitment to serving you safely and reliably,” says Rovinescu.
“Like all of you, we’ve been monitoring the evolving global impact of COVID-19 and are in constant dialogue with Canadian and international health authorities.
“We will keep you informed of the latest updates and always with your safety in mind.”
Air Canada is also bolstering its new change fee policy. The airline says passengers can change their flight up to 24 hours before departure. This new stipulation increases the flexibility of Air Canada’s change fee rules, updated March 5, allowing a one-time change fee waiver for all destinations, across the board, for tickets purchased March 4 – 31, 2020.
Here’s a look at the latest updates from Air Canada …
. Suspension of all flights to Italy with plans to restart on May 1.
. Suspension of flights between Canada and Beijing and Shanghai extended until April 30.
. Suspension of daily nonstop Toronto-Hong Kong flights extended until May 30. Daily, nonstop Vancouver-Hong Kong flights are still operating.
. Suspension of nonstop Toronto-Seoul flights extended until May 31. Nonstop Vancouver-Seoul flights continue to operate.
. Suspension of Calgary-Tokyo Narita flights until June 29. Nonstop Vancouver-Tokyo Narita flights continue to operate.
Meanwhile Air Transat has updated information for its Italy flights. Transat’s spring and summer season flights to Italy are set to begin April 10.
In the wake of the Canadian government’s upgraded travel alert for Italy, advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the country, Air Transat has implemented the following policy …
. All Air Transat passengers who booked a flight to Venice on or before March 2, 2020 for a trip planned by June 30, 2020 are authorized to change the date of their reservation or their destination without penalty for a trip by Oct. 31, 2020. Passengers will have to pay any price difference.
. All Air Transat passengers who booked a flight to Rome or Lamezia on or before March 9, 2020 for a trip planned by June 30, 2020 are also authorized to change the date of their reservation or their destination without penalty for a trip from by Oct. 31, 2020. Again, passengers will have to pay any price difference.