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

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read