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

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Popular event/party band March Hare will appear in an online streamed performance Friday (June 18) featuring their salute to music of the `60s and `70s as part of BEC Entertainment’s Grand Summer Virtual Concert series. (Contributed photo)
White Rock-based BEC Entertainment continues Friday-night virtual concerts

March Hare and California Surf Incorporated featured

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

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

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(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

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read