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Major Canadian airlines to suspend flights to the Caribbean and Mexico, feds increase restrictions on int’l flights


Starting next week, all international flights will only be allowed to land at Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary

OTTAWA, ON., Jan. 29, 2021 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat announced today that, beginning January 31, flights to Mexican and Caribbean destinations will be suspended for 90 days in response to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, particularly during the Spring Break period. In addition, starting next week, the Prime Minister said all international flights will only be allowed to land at Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. The Canadian government will also be introducing mandatory in-airport PCR testing for returning travellers, who must await their results in quarantine at an approved hotel while also footing the bill themselves. The Prime Minister also stated that Mandatory COVID-19 testing at U.S. land borders will also be coming for non-essential travellers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced this morning that Canada’s four major airlines have agreed to suspend their services starting this Sunday until April 30, and will be making the arrangements with customers who are in these regions in order to organize their flights home.

“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 Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer at Air Canada.

“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 per cent 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.”

Following consultations with the federal government, Air Canada has agreed to suspend operations to 15 destinations beginning this Sunday, January 31 until Friday, April 30. To help ensure Canadians are not stranded abroad, Air Canada says they plan to operate a number of one-way commercial flights from affected destinations after January 31 in order to return customers at the suspended destinations to Canada.

Air Canada says affected customers will be offered full refunds given the services are being suspended with no alternative available.

Air Canada has agreed to suspend operations to 15 destinations beginning this Sunday. Suspended destinations include:

  • Cayo Coco
  • Cancun
  • Liberia
  • Montego Bay
  • Punta Cana
  • Varadero
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Antigua
  • Aruba
  • Barbados
  • Kingston
  • Mexico City
  • Nassau
  • Providenciales
  • San Jose

Meanwhile, also effective Sunday, January 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET, WestJet will suspend southbound operations to the following destinations until April 30. Over the subsequent two weeks, WestJet says they will work “to bring our guests already in destination back to Canada.”

WestJet’s suspended destinations include:

  • 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)

At the moment, Florida and Arizona are not on the list of suspended flights.

“The pandemic has had devastating impacts on our hard-working people, and they have made tremendous sacrifices throughout,” continued Sims. “The government recognizes how uniquely hard hit our industry has been and has acknowledged our efforts to curb the spread of the virus. We note their words of support for our airline as a strong partner in the fight against COVID-19.”

For guests with travel booked during the impacted period, WestJet says they will proactively notify them of their options.

Both Sunwing and Air Transat are following suit in cancelling all of their Caribbean and Mexican destination flights.

Meanwhile, the Ontario government has just announced a six-point plan to take immediate and decisive action to stop the spread of new COVID-19 variants throughout the province. The plan includes mandatory on-arrival testing of international travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing to identify the new variants, maintaining public health measures to keep people safe, strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases, enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions.

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