Air Canada CFO urges looser travel restrictions as PM extends border shutdown

Air Canada CFO urges looser travel restrictions as PM extends border shutdown

Air Canada CFO urges looser travel restrictions as PM extends border shutdown

MONTREAL — Air Canada’s chief financial officer echoed on Tuesday his boss’s recent call to ease travel restrictions as the airline continues to bleed cash, despite concerns over a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the airline is starting to see “some improvement” in domestic bookings, international flights will only pick up when governments begin to remove barriers such as quarantines, Michael Rousseau told investors at a virtual National Bank event.

“I hate these online meetings. I hate these virtual meetings,” Rousseau said. Colleagues and clients are ”eager to interact” in person, he said, calling the online gatherings ”a loss for everybody.”

“Bookings will only improve…when the government has started to eliminate restrictions,” he added.

Last week, Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu was among more than 130 signatories to an open letter from the travel and tourism industry calling on premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to loosen travel restrictions and roll out targeted quarantines for passengers returning from higher-risk countries.

Leisure travel within Canada has already seen an uptick as interprovincial travel barriers are scaled back, Rousseau said, though several Maritime provinces continue to block province-to-province trips while others discourage them.

He expects domestic business trips to ramp up as early as September, followed by international leisure and business travel, but said the lucrative summer European market is passing the company by this year.

“Summer’s almost past, to some degree. The leisure European markets are summer-based. We’re trying to capture some of that…but that’s probably more into next year,” Rousseau said.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada and the United States will continue to limit non-essential travel between the two countries until at least July 21. Ottawa continues to require passengers returning from abroad to self-isolate for two weeks.

The confirmation came the same day Chinese authorities were reimposing some travel restrictions in the capital as they work to contain a new coronavirus outbreak and prevent it spreading more widely in a country that previously appeared to have largely contained the disease.

Air Canada predicted last month it would bleed about $20 million per day in the second quarter as border shutdowns continue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the company to furlough nearly 20,000 employees this month.

The airline does not expect passenger numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, Rousseau said.

The number of international air travellers was down 97 per cent year over year at the start of this month, with passengers on U.S. flights down by 98 per cent on June 7 alone, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020.

— with a file from The Associated Press

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Alberta eases some COVID-19 restrictions

Salons, barbershops and other personal and wellness services will be open by appointment only

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy.’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake man charged with fraud totalling more than $100,000

Sylvan Lake RCMP have been investigating two companies owned by the same man since June 2019

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Kenney kicks Pat Rehn out of UCP caucus after municipal complaints

Rehn had been criticized by municipal leaders in his constituency

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

‘Realities on the ground’ means that provinces, territories will have difficult choices to make

(Pixabay photo)
Alberta surgeon who hung a noose in a hospital found guilty of unprofessional conduct

College of Physicians and Surgeons says sanctions will be determined at a later hearing

Most Read