WestJet and Air Canada, along with other Canadian airlines, announced on Friday that, at the request of the Canadian government, international flights from Canada to Mexico and the Caribbean will be suspended until at least April 30th.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Friday at a press conference during which he unveiled a number of other new restrictions on international travel to and from Canada.
“Given the challenges we are currently facing with COVID-19 domestically and internationally, we all agree that now is not the time to fly,” Trudeau said at a news conference on Friday.
“The government asked and we agreed,” WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said in a statement.
“While we know that air travel has accounted for less than two percent of cases since the crisis began, and even less today, we recognize that the Canadian government’s request is a precaution,” he added. “We have responded to your request and will discontinue service for destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.”
Apart from WestJet and Air Canada, Sunwing and Air Transat have agreed to suspend all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico from Sunday.
Other restrictions include that all international inbound passenger flights will be forced to land in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal. mandatory airport PCR testing for people returning to Canada, as well as mandatory three-day quarantine in a hotel at the traveler’s expense (Trudeau said it could cost more than CAD 2,000); and another quarantine at home “under significantly increased surveillance” if you test negative, and a forced quarantine at the hotel if you test positive.
There are also plans for anyone coming into Canada across the US land border to test negative before entry.
“Today’s news of the suspension of flights to the Caribbean and Mexico and the significant restrictions that come with it is utterly devastating for all sectors of the travel industry – from airlines to hotels, tour operators, travel agents to independent travel agents, contractors and any other company that rely on tourism, “ACTA president Wendy Paradis said in a statement in response to the news.
“Without increased and urgent help and protection from commission recalls, travel agencies and independent contractors will immediately shut down and go bankrupt – as we have warned the federal government,” she added. “As we’ve been telling the federal government for months, travel agents and travel agents cannot survive the brunt of the approximately $ 200 million recall commission for canceled and refunded bookings related to the COVID-19 crisis.”
ACTA reinforced the impact of these recent travel restrictions and the message that any assistance given to an airline or tour operator must include funding to cover travel agent recall commissions and a fund to cover recalled bookings.
“We need immediate and focused discussions with the government to ensure the safety not only of Canadians and travelers, but also of our travel businesses,” she said. “Travel agents and travel agents need help now. Our industry was effectively closed. “