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Economic damage from Canada’s travel restrictions could become permanent, IATA warns

TORONTO — After six long months, everyone from Canada’s airlines to tour operators, consortiums, chains and host agencies have called on the federal government to re-evaluate Canada’s travel restrictions. Now even IATA is wading into the fray.

IATA is urging the Canadian government to support recent COVID-19 testing initiatives by Air Canada and WestJet as a means to safely reopen Canada to international and domestic travel without the need for blanket quarantine measures.

Earlier this month Air Canada announced new voluntary COVID-19 testing available at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, while WestJet announced testing at Vancouver Airport.

Canada’s 14-day mandatory quarantine for all passengers arriving in and returning to Canada has been in place since mid-March, along with the advisory against all non-essential travel outside the country.

‘‘There are alternatives to the quarantine measures currently in place that can both keep Canadians safe as well as revive the economy,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“The ICAO multi-layered approach is one. The work that Air Canada and WestJet are doing on testing adds another dimension. It is critical that the Government of Canada acts on these before the economic and social damages become permanent and the public health consequences of mass unemployment become even more apparent,” adds de Juniac.

IATA notes that international traffic to Canada has plummeted since quarantine measures were introduced in March 2020.

IATA’s recent missive outlines the economic impact on Canada:

  • Revenues generated by airlines with service to/from/within Canada could fall by $22.6 billion (70%) relative to 2019, if restrictions continue, according to IATA’s estimates
  • Nearly 410,500 Canadian jobs and some $39 billion of Canada’s GDP, which is generated by aviation directly and indirectly as well as by aviation-related tourism, are at risk
  • Air transport in Canada supports some 633,000 jobs, directly and indirectly
  • 3.2% of Canada’s GDP is supported by the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air

In an interview earlier this summer with Travelweek, Air Canada’s Virgilio Russi, Managing Director of Sales, International, said that if Canada doesn’t reciprocate global entry privileges soon, countries may roll back their decision to allow Canadians in.

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