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

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read