TORONTO — Air Canada has issued a list of its suspended sun destinations and says impacted passengers will be offered full refunds.
WestJet has also issued a list of its suspended destinations.
Refunds trigger commission recalls, and Canada’s travel agents are already facing severe shortfalls after 10 months of COVID-19 and already existing travel restrictions.
As announced Jan. 29 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his COVID-19 briefing, all four of Canada’s major airlines – Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat – have agreed to cancel all sun destination flights to and from Mexico and the Caribbean effective Jan. 31 through April 30, 20201, in a joint effort with the federal government to secure Canada’s borders against more COVID-19 cases, particularly the new variants.
The measures announced include:
- Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat will suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean for the remainder of the winter season, effective Jan. 31 until April 30, 2021.
- For the immediate future all international passenger flights must land at Canada’s four largest airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary
- There will be mandatory PCR testing at those 4 airports
- Incoming passengers must wait at a “supervised hotel” until their test results come back negative, at their own expense, pegged at $2,000
- With a negative test result, travellers will wait out the rest of their quarantine at home, under “significantly increased surveillance”
- In the event of a positive test result, travellers must go to “government facilities” in an effort to determine if the strain is one of the new variants
Air Canada is suspending operations to 15 destinations in total.
“Air Canada believes a collaborative approach with the Government of Canada involving all air carriers is the best means to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially given concerns around the variants of COVID- 19 and travel during the Spring Break period. Through consultation we have established an approach that will allow us to achieve an orderly reduction in service to these destinations that minimizes the impact on our customers and will support important public health goals to manage COVID-19. System-wide the incremental impact on Air Canada’s cash burn is not material given the already reduced levels of passenger traffic resulting from COVID-19 and travel restrictions,” said Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu.
To help ensure Canadians are not stranded abroad, Air Canada plans to operate a number of one-way commercial flights from affected destinations after January 31 in order to return passengers at the suspended destinations to Canada.
“Affected customers will be offered full refunds given the services are being suspended with no alternative available,” says Air Canada.
Since the start of 2020, in the wake of the pandemic, Air Canada has refunded more than $1 billion in refundable tickets.
Air Canada’s suspended destinations include:
- Cayo Coco
- Montego Bay
- Punta Cana
- Puerto Vallarta
- Mexico City
- San Jose
The WestJet Group is temporarily ceasing international flights to 14 sun destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, effective Jan. 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET, until April 30. The following southbound operations will be suspended:
Vancouver – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Vancouver – Cancun, Mexico
Vancouver – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Calgary – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Calgary – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Calgary – Cancun, Mexico,
Calgary – Liberia, Costa Rica
Edmonton – Cancun, Mexico
Edmonton – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Toronto – Cancun, Mexico
Toronto – Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Toronto – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Toronto – Kingston, Jamaica
Toronto – Montego Bay, Jamaica
Toronto – Liberia, Costa Rica
Toronto – Varadero, Cuba
Toronto – Saint Lucia
Toronto – Saint Marten
Toronto – Nassau, Bahamas
Toronto – Bermuda
Edmonton – Mazatlan, Mexico (Swoop)
Edmonton – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Swoop)
Toronto – Montego Bay, Jamaica (Swoop)
Toronto – Cancun, Mexico (Swoop)
Over the subsequent two weeks, WestJet will work to bring guests already in destination back to Canada. Guests booked to travel during the impacted period will be notified.
“The government asked and we agreed,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “While we know that air travel is responsible for less than two per cent of cases since the start of the crisis, and even less today, we recognize the Government of Canada’s ask is a precautionary measure. We also note that the overwhelming majority of quarantine exemptions, well over 90% in fact, are connected to land borders and not air travel. We have responded to their request and will suspend service to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.”
In its notice today WestJet said that for passengers with travel booked during the impacted period, WestJet will be proactively notifying them of their options.