An Air Canada ticketing station is shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

An Air Canada ticketing station is shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Air Canada calls on Ottawa to lift hotel quarantine as it prepares for recovery

‘The current mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals has proven ineffective. It should be eliminated,’ Michael Rousseau said Friday

Air Canada called on Ottawa to ease travel restrictions as the airline, which reported a first-quarter loss of $1.3 billion, plans for its post-pandemic recovery.

“The current mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals has proven ineffective. It should be eliminated,” Michael Rousseau said Friday in his first quarterly conference call since becoming CEO.

The federal government requires anyone flying into Canada to isolate at a hotel for three nights to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“We believe that with a vaccination program now underway nationally, a modified and more relevant approach to testing and quarantine would keep Canadians safe while allowing our country to reopen for international travel.”

Rousseau said the government must develop and communicate a reopening plan as it is cautiously optimistic that the country is nearing an “inflection point” with the vaccination rate rising in the middle of a difficult third wave.

“After over 14 months of restrictions, Canadians, who we know are eager to travel, want and deserve clear guidelines. They want to know when they will be able to travel internationally again and under what protocols.”

Air Canada expects domestic travel will lead its recovery, as was the case in the U.S., given the strength in demand especially for transcontinental flights despite lockdowns and restrictions.

Peak summer leisure travel in July and August, including to Europe, is expected to be pushed to September and October.

And corporate travel, a key segment for the airline, likely won’t come back until after Labour Day, chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette told analysts.

She said some corporate travel policy restrictions may remain in place as long as employees continue to work from home.

“What we’re seeing now, though, is there’s definitely an appetite for corporate Canada to return to travel.”

However, the quarantine requirement is a deterrent and the future of corporate travel could depend on whether there are changes to same-day travel practices.

While corporate travel may come back later than leisure trips, Rousseau said Air Canada believes it will recover in a hybrid office environment that is accompanied by rapid home testing.

The country’s largest airline also said it is seeing strong demand through next winter to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii and Florida as Canadians anticipate their first post-pandemic holiday.

Analyst Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial expects air traffic will ultimately rebound strongly, but only if restrictions are lifted

“Our near-term caution is rooted in our belief that the Canadian government-imposed air travel restrictions are not set to be materially eased in time to salvage much of the upcoming peak summer travel period,” he wrote in a report.

Last month, Air Canada reached a deal for $5.9 billion in federal aid including money earmarked to help refund customers. However, demand for refunds is slower than expected despite reaching out to customers proactively.

Air Canada said its loss amounted to $3.90 per diluted share for the quarter that ended March 31 compared with a loss of $1 billion or $4.00 per diluted share a year ago when it had fewer shares outstanding.

Revenue in the quarter totalled $729 million, down from $3.7 billion in the first three months of 2020.

Air Canada said its capacity as measured in available seat miles was down 82.1 per cent compared with a year ago, while traffic measured in revenue passenger miles was down 89.5 per cent.

The airline plans to approximately double its second quarter capacity from the same quarter in 2020, but says compared with the same period in 2019 that second quarter capacity is expected to be down 84 per cent.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Grade 12 graduates Jada Touchie, Timothy Masso and Brendan Brown are all smiles after receiving their Goodies for the Grads gift packs thanks to a small neighbourhood grant from the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet Secondary School grads set to parade through town

Family and friends can cheer on the Class of 2021 this Saturday, June 19 at 4:30 p.m.

From left, Ahousaht First Nation Hereditary Chief Richard George presents a $10,000 cheque to Tofino Hatchery manager Doug Palfrey alongside Tyler Huebner of TCH Contracting The funds will go towards rebuilding Cypre river Chinook. (Carallyn Bowes photo)
Tofino Hatchery receives $10K donation

Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society tackling massive drop in Chinook salmon stocks

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

This rendering shows the potential layout for a 40-unit staff housing cooperative being proposed by the Pac Rim Home Development Cooperative in Ucluelet. (Image from www.prhdc.ca)
Pac Rim Cooperative pitches staff housing project in Ucluelet

“We’re looking at it as if it’s like a resort for employees”

A shot from within Leah McDiarmid’s new gallery shows a sneak peak at June 13’s opening exhibit. (Leah McDiarmid photo)
New gallery promises engaging experience in Tofino

Tofino Gallery of Contemporary Art unveils inaugural exhibit on June 13

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Members of the Department of National Defence are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed his worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact,’ said Sgt. Peter DeVries

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, four deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Island harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water Ladysmith Harbour, none threatening

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
Island Health opening COVID-19 vaccine clinic to boost lagging Cowichan Lake numbers

Cowichan Valley West the only Island area under 60 per cent in adult first dose totals

Most Read