Transat Suspends All Flights

Transat A.T. Inc. is advising that it is suspending all of its scheduled Air Transat flights until April 30 following the Canadian government’s request not to travel to Mexico and the Caribbean and the imposition of new quarantine and COVID-19 screening measures.

Repatriation of its customers to Canada is expected to take place over the next two weeks, the company said.

Jean-Marc Eustache, president and Chief Executive Officer of Transat, said that: “We are putting in place the measures requested by the Canadian government, including not travelling to the South. This forces us to temporarily suspend all our flights, including to Europe.”

Transat’s boss continued: “We will do everything we can to return our customers back to Canada. We obviously share the government’s objective to protect Canadians from COVID-19, including the new variants, and this is what all of our personnel have been doing in recent months, particularly on board our aircraft, with a comprehensive program of adapted sanitary measures.”

Repatriation Flights

Air Transat will operate several dozen flights over the next two weeks to return its customers to Canada. Transat customers scheduled to return to the country between now and Feb. 13 will keep their original flight, while customers whose flights are cancelled will automatically be redirected to another Air Transat flight. Transat’s priority is to get everyone home.

Until April 30, customers who are unable to travel due to the cancellation of their flight will be refunded in the same method of payment they used for their booking.

Federal Support Crucial

In light of the disastrous situation in which the entire industry finds itself, Transat reiterates the importance for the federal government to put in place the sector-specific financial assistance announced to support its industry and the investments it has made in recent years, not to mention the tens of thousands of workers in the sector who have lost their jobs.

The airline industry is highly competitive, and international carriers from other countries have benefited from significant support measures from their governments since the beginning of the pandemic.

This is creating a considerable imbalance that has hurt the competitiveness of Canada’s airlines for months and threatens their survival. Moreover, the entire Canadian economy will be deprived of the vital and strategic contribution of the airline and aeronautics industry when the recovery comes.

From the outset of the pandemic, Transat has implemented a series of measures to safeguard the company and its cash flow, including temporary layoffs affecting 75% of its staff.

Unfortunately, the temporary shutdown of operations has resulted in further layoffs of flight crews and support staff.

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AIR CANADA: Designed To Minimize Customer Impact

Air Canada also provided additional details on its temporary suspension of its flights to Mexican and Caribbean destinations that’s set to begin on Jan. 31.

The carrier indicated that 90-day suspension is in response to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, particularly during the Spring Break period.

It noted as well that the decision was designed to achieve an orderly reduction in service and minimize customer impact and was taken in collaboration with the Government of Canada following consultations.

Air Canada’s president and chief executive officer, Calin Rovinescu said: “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.”

Rovinescu continued: “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.”

And Air Canada’s boss added: “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.”

Air Canada is suspending its operations to 15 destinations beginning this Sunday, Jan. 31 until Fri., April 30.

To help ensure Canadians are not stranded abroad, Air Canada plans to operate a number of one-way commercial flights from affected destinations after Jan. 31 in order to return customers at the suspended destinations to Canada.

Affected customers will be offered full refunds given the services are being suspended with no alternative available.

Suspended destinations include:

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

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SUNWING: A Necessary Decision

In a statement following the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement on Jan. 29, Sunwing said in a statement that: “Further to the Government of Canada’s announcement this morning (Jan. 29), Sunwing, along with all other major Canadian airlines and tour operators, has made the decision to suspend flights to all sun destinations until April 30, 2021.”

The company indicated that: “This decision was not made lightly but something we deemed necessary as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is based on ongoing collaboration with the government and the Canadian aviation industry.”

And it continued: “We are working to notify customers currently in destination about any changes to their existing flights and those with upcoming vacation bookings on the cancelled flight schedule. In addition, any customers with cancelled bookings will be provided a full refund to the original form of payment.”

Sunwing’s statement concluded: “We look forward to planning for our eventual return to service in the spring and making more travellers’ vacation dreams come true.”

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WESTJET: Government Asked, We’ve Agreed

Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 briefing today, the WestJet Group confirmed that it is temporarily ceasing international flying to 14 sun destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean in response to a request from the Canadian government.

WestJet’s president and CEO, Ed Sims said: “The government asked, and we agreed. 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.”

Sims continued: “We also note that the overwhelming majority of quarantine exemptions, well over 90% 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.”

The carrier indicated that over the subsequent two weeks, it will work to bring its passengers already in destination back to Canada.

Effective Sun., Jan. 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET, WestJet will suspend southbound operations to the following destinations until April 30:

  • From Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas
  • From Calgary to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun in Mexico; and Liberia, Costa Rica
  • From Edmonton to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta
  • From Toronto to Cancun, Mexico; and Puerto Plata and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Liberia, Costa Rica; Varadero, Cuba; Saint Lucia; Saint Marten; Nassau, Bahamas; and Bermuda.

Service suspensions by Swoop include:

  • From Edmonton to Mazatlan, Mexico; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • From Toronto to Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Cancun, Mexico.

Through its Safety Above All program, the WestJet Group has implemented extensive safety measures since the start of the pandemic and as a result, there have been no documented cases of person-to-person transmission onboard the airline’s flights.

Said Sims: “The pandemic has had devastating impacts on our hard-working people, and they have made tremendous sacrifices throughout.”

He continued: “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.”

WestJet indicated that for guests with travel booked during the impacted period, it will proactively notify them of their options.

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