Air Canada is primed and ready for takeoff during Covid-19
Chief Executive Officer, Voyzant
When the pandemic hit, I went through an interesting mix of emotions. I was extremely concerned about the impact that this was going to have on my industry, while my physical body was relieved at the thought of not having to go on another flight again anytime soon.
As CEO of Voyzant, my job entails travelling to our various offices across North America, Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world. I was travelling to any given location at least once a week.
My pre-Covid-19 schedule consisted of constantly preparing for the next trip, catching a quick meal or coffee in a lounge as I would go over presentations one last time on my laptop, waking up in a different time zone every week and living in a semi-permanent state of jetlag.
Suddenly I was waking up in the same city every day, it was a refreshing change.
Then something peculiar happened, after about a good month away from the airports, airplanes, the constant packing and unpacking I realized I missed it … I missed it all.
So when I opened my email inbox on Thursday, July 9 and saw an invitation from Air Canada to fly on their new Airbus A220 from Toronto (Pearson International Airport) to Montreal (Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport), I quickly accepted; eager to get a taste of my prior life.
When I arrived at the airport the morning of July 16, it was like meeting up with an old friend, but my friend had changed … a lot.
The airport was not the bustling hub of people buzzing around that I had experienced in February, it was significantly quieter and emptier.
There were signs everywhere to encourage people to maintain social distancing, people were wearing gloves and masks.
Before I was allowed to go through the security gate, my temperature was taken, boarding pass checked and hand sanitizer provided.
My old friend may have changed a lot, but it was good to be back.
I, along with a small group of industry professionals and media, were then escorted to the newly renovated Maple Leaf Lounge. I was very curious to see if I would still be able to experience the comfort I was accustomed to in airport lounges under the new Covid-19 safety precautions that were in place.
Gone was the buffet, but now I could choose from a selection of pre-packaged meals and hot beverages, that were all delivered to my seat.
All the seats were placed at safe distances from each other.
Things were different, but I was relaxed and most importantly I knew I was safe.
While we were enjoying our snacks, Air Canada generously took the time to present a line-up of speakers that included Air Canada representatives, GTAA and government officials explaining the new elevated health and safety measures and more insight into the Air Canada Clean Care+ program.
As Ontario prepares to ease up on lockdown measures, I was encouraged to see how seriously and thoroughly Air Canada has been in placing protocols that maintain traveler health and safety.
Ready to board
When the moment arrived for boarding, I was greeted by a courteous masked and gloved flight attendant.
As I eased myself into my seat, I noticed that the seats on the new A220 are wider and extremely comfortable, a pleasant surprise.
Once seated I was given a Clean Care+ kit that contained: a mask, bottled water, plastic gloves, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
Feeling quite relaxed during the flight I was served Air Canada’s Signature Class meal that was attractively packaged, served with single-use cutlery and I savoured every bite.
Upon arrival in Montreal, our group was escorted to the Montreal Airport Marriot In-Terminal Hotel where we were given further insight from a panel of Air Canada executives and their travel partners into how the end-to-end travel experience has been enhanced for their customers.
Way to go Air Canada
As one of the largest travel companies in North America, Voyzant has been working closely with all stake holders to revive air travel and build back consumer trust.
Finding solutions to rebuild our industry has been challenging but I believe that working closely with the government at all levels is the key to success for the travel industry.
After experiencing firsthand Air Canada’s Safety and Hygiene protocol and the great measures the GTAA has taken to ensure the safety of air travel, I fully support Air Canada’s proposal to ease quarantine requirements for low risk Covid-19 countries.
I commend Air Canada for playing an active role in getting our industry back on track.
I returned to Toronto that day happy and more importantly filled with hope after having seen that our industry is ready to get back on its feet.
Chippy Jegathesan is the chief executive officer of Voyzant, which has locations in cities around the world; enterprises in niche travel markets – Holidays by Voyzant, Hotels by Voyzant and Onvigo by Voyzant – an executive team with decades of experience and a staff of over 200 travel experts. It generates over $1 billion in annual sales revenue, has extensive airline partnerships and handles 9 million tickets annually. For more, go to www.voyzant.com.