Air Canada

Westjet extends sun destination suspension

Westjet extends international holiday destination suspension to June 4

Westjet sun destination
A Westjet Boeing 737 departs Vancouver International Airport January 21, 2021 (Brett Ballah).

June is shaping up to be a busy, and hopeful, month in Canadian aviation. Westjet announced Tuesday it will suspend sun destination flights until June 4. The airline said it is making the move in the hopes Canadian border policy will change in the next two months.

“We are extending our suspension with the clear expectation that as more Canadians are vaccinated, government policy will transition,” said Ed Sims, WestJet’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

The government closed the border to most non-Canadians a year ago. Since then, it imposed both pre-flight and post-arrival COVID testing, and it requires people who arrive on international flights to wait in a government-approved hotel while their tests are processed. Westjet wants that to change.

“We continue to advocate for the replacement of mandatory hotel quarantines,” said Sims, “with a testing regime that is equitable and consistent with global standards at all points of entry into our country. Alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, this policy transition will support the safe restart of travel and help stimulate the Canadian economy, where one in ten jobs are tourism related.”


A brighter summer, maybe

June may represent a best guess by Westjet. The government has not set a date to lift border measures. Ministers continue to insist the measures are preventing COVID variants from entering the country, even as Canada confronts a third wave of the pandemic.

A Flair Boeing 737 departs Vancouver International Airport January 21, 2021 (Brett Ballah).

Other airlines are also looking to June. Porter Airlines set June 21 as its latest restart date. The airline has been grounded for more than a year.

Flair announced Wednesday it will add flights between Ottawa and Kelowna, starting August 4. It’s the latest leg the airline announced in an ambitious summer programme. The airline will begin ramping up service starting May 4, with the arrival of the first of 13 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

“We know there is pent up demand for people to see families and have affordable vacations once it is safe for us to travel again,” said Flair chief executive Stephen Jones in a statement. “As a ULCC, our efficiencies are passed along in our pricing. Our low fares are an important step in restarting the tourism industry as they allow people to explore more, and both Ottawa and Kelowna are two attractive regions for domestic tourism.”

And in its deal with the federal government, Air Canada agreed to restart service to a dozen destinations where it suspended service. Those services will be reinstated in the coming weeks.

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