OTTAWA — All four of Canada’s major airlines – Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat – have agreed to cancel all sun destination flights through April 30, 2021, in a joint effort with the federal government to secure Canada’s borders against more COVID-19 cases particularly the new variants.
While the travel industry expected to hear news of hotel quarantines today at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 briefing, the measures against travel were far more far-reaching and potentially devastating for the industry than expected.
The measures include:
- Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat will suspend service to and from Mexico and the Caribbean, effective Jan. 31, 2021, for the remainder of the winter season, 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 control further spread of the new, more contagious variants
“For nearly a year Canada’s borders have been closed to foreign travellers,” said Trudeau at his briefing today.
“Fewer than 2% of COVID-19 cases are linked to international travel. This is proof that our measures are working,” he said. However, “even one case is one case too many.”
Canada’s airlines “have agreed to be part of the solution,” he said, adding that the carriers have been strong partners. “We appreciate the work Canada’s airlines have done,” he said.
“Now is just not the time to be flying.”
The devastated travel industry, including travel agents who face up to $200 million in commission recalls in the event of mass refunds, has been waiting to hear more about industry-specific support.
Trudeau said today: “Our government is committed to restart the Canadian travel and tourism industries.”
News of an airline bailout was first announced on Nov. 8, however there have been no more details since that time.
Asked about assistance for the airlines, Trudeau said today: “We are engaged in ongoing talks with the airlines, we are having very good discussions. We are here to support the airline companies and we thank them for making this decision.”