Waiting For Word From Ottawa

While there have been numerous media reports suggesting that the federal government will be making changes to Canada’s current travel policies, WestJet’s VP External Affairs, Andy Gibbons said in a statement that: “As of today, WestJet has not received formal notice from the government outlining changes to Canada’s current travel policies for ArriveCan, random arrivals testing, vaccination or mandatory masking.”

Gibbons continued: “Throughout the pandemic, we have been strong advocates for health and safety measures that are grounded in science and are consistent with other consumer activities. We are strongly in support of the removal of all remaining outdated measures on behalf of our guests and our people who should be empowered to make decisions that are best for them. Air travel has continued to be singled out and current policies are misaligned with the existing global consensus.”

And he noted that: “As we await a formal announcement, Canada’s mandatory masking policy must transition to optional to reflect the reality of consumer activities in Canada and around the world. Unfortunately mask non-compliance and enforcement on our aircraft continues to be a source of disruption for our people and guests and this transition is critical to align with other major nations. The mandatory mask policy has become increasingly unenforceable.”

WestJet’s VP External Affairs pointed out that: “For context, in 2022 alone, we have had more than 1,100 reported incidents of mask non-compliance, an increase from 2021. These situations have caused one air turnback, nine gate turnbacks and 74 flights to re-open the cabin door after boarding to offload unruly guests.”

And Gibbons concluded in his statement that: “Prior to the pandemic, unruly incidents on our aircraft were extremely uncommon, mask non-compliance has significantly increased unruly behaviour and has resulted in verbal and physical assault which we do not tolerate. In order to protect our guest and employees and ensure a positive travel experience, we believe the government must appropriately transition this policy.”