February 1, 2021 By Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Canadians determined to fly to sunny destinations are still able to do so despite new travel restrictions announced by the federal government last week.
Though Canadian airlines have temporarily suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, flights departing Canadian cities to sun destinations are available aboard U.S. carriers.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, for example, are selling tickets for flights from Toronto to Cancun, with passengers connecting through U.S. cities like Charlotte, NC, and Philadelphia, PA, an online search shows.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canadian airlines had agreed to suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
The prime minister announced the suspensions along with stricter measures aimed at reducing international travel, including a requirement that entrants to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.
On Monday, Bloc Quebecois transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval highlighted the loophole, saying in a statement that the flight suspensions put Canadian companies at a disadvantage.
The new restrictions come weeks after Canada implemented a requirement that all air passengers travelling to Canada produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The testing mandate caused an immediate drop in flight bookings, airlines said, leading to additional layoffs. With the latest restrictions, experts say they expect further layoffs at Canadian carriers, along with potential bankruptcies, if government aid for the sector doesn’t materialize.
The suspensions of flights to sun destinations will cost Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, around $200 million in lost revenue between now and April 30, said one industry analyst, John Gradek.
Airlines have been in negotiations with the government for months about the terms of an aid package, with Ottawa saying that any federal funding for airlines would be contingent on their issuing full refunds to passengers who had their flights cancelled during the pandemic.