By Arturo Higueras
Canadian Airlines Suspend Flights to Mexico and Caribbean Until May
Many countries are still adopting restriction measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While the vaccination process is slowly advancing, governments are finding themselves having to deal with the third wave. With the appearance of new strains from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, travel restrictions, mostly connected with those three countries, have increased during the last two weeks. Canada has been the lastest, announcing as any passenger arriving at the country will have to quarantine in designated hotels while waiting for their negative tests results. Last Friday, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced these measures to protect Canadians, “With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying. By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time when we can all plan those vacations.”
The passengers arriving in Canada will not only need to quarantine in hotels, but they will also have to do it at their own expense. This self-isolation will last three days and, according to Mr. Trudeau, will cost around $2000. In case the test result is negative, after three days the passengers could leave the hotel and complete the two-weeks quarantine at home. If the result is positive, they will have to continue to self-isolate at government-designated facilities.
Following these restrictions, the Canadian airline sector has reacted in a severe way. Air Canada, Westjet, Sunwing and Air Transat have announced the suspension of all their flight to all the Caribbean destinations and Mexico. These cancellations will last, at least, until April 30th and start next Sunday. The carriers have adopted these measures to avoid the negative economic impact of the decreasing demand. Moreover, all international flights arriving in Canada can only do it at four different airports: Calgary International, Montréal Trudeau, Vancouver International and Toronto Pearson.
From those airlines, Air Transat, Canadian third-largest airline, has cancelled all its flight from and to Toronto Pearson International airport. They say the restrictions have led to an important decline in the bookings and they have no other option than suspending all their winter season. Apart than Mexico and the Caribbean, the leisure carrier was also connecting Toronto with Faro International, Lisbon Humberto Delgado and Porto Francisco Sá Carneiro in Portugal.
Air Transat agreed months ago being sold to one of its direct competitors: Air Canada. More than 91% of its shareholders voted in favor of the purchase on December 15. The agreement, which expires next February 15, is still pending for the approval of the Canadian and the European Union authorities which is expected to arrive in the next days.
At this moment, Canada is progressing with its vaccination program and, according to the University of Oxford, has already vaccinated 2.5% of its population. However, this number is still far from the 52% of Israel or 12.3% of the United Kingdom and the country is still far from coming back to the old normality.