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Canadian carriers reinstate routes as vaccine rollout picks up steam

written by Hannah Dowling | March 25, 2021
A WestJet Boeing 737-700.

Canada’s second largest carrier WestJet Airlines is reinstating some previously suspended domestic routes from 24 June, as vaccines continue to instill confidence in the industry.

While Canada’s vaccine rollout has largely trailed that of the US and UK, vaccine supply is expected to receive a boost over the next two weeks, with the government pleading to ramp up its vaccination campaign.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday: “We are going to have all adults fully vaccinated by September and, looking at the horizons some of the provinces have put forward, I think it’s possible that many, many Canadians will have their first doses by the time summer rolls around.”

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In light of the news, WestJet’s director for government relations Andy Gibbons informed reporters that that airline is looking towards reinstating five destinations in Atlantic Canada and Quebec to its network from 24 June

“That’s the type of encouraging news that’s allowed us to make today’s announcement,” Gibbons said of Trudeau’s announcement.

Gibbons noted that WestJet’s announcement was independent of ongoing negotiations within the Canadian government over a potential financial aid package for the aviation sector that would target regional Canadian routes.

At the same time, the airline representative urged the government to reduce its current border restrictions and quarantine requirements that are among some of the lengthiest in the world.

Currently, Canada makes all international travellers self-isolate at a government-authorised hotel for three days upon arrival, before sending them on to complete a 14-day home-quarantine.

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Meanwhile, Canada’s largest carrier, Air Canada, also announced its ambitious plans to restore services to sunny international destinations, including Jamaica, Mexico and Barbados, as soon as early May.

Air Canada will operate three flights per week from Toronto to Mexico City starting 3 May, and one flight per week from Toronto to Kingston, Jamaica and Bridgetown, Barbados beginning 5 May and 9 May, respectively.

Air Canada recently advised that it expects the government to reduce the severity of its current quarantine measures, and replace it with testing requirements.

The Canadian government has not yet announced whether or not it will do so.

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