A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty Tuesday, June 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty Tuesday, June 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

New travel rules leave flight options on U.S. airlines for Canadian sun seekers

Only Canadian airlines have suspended their flights down south

Canadians determined to fly to sunny destinations are still able to do so despite new travel restrictions announced by the federal government last week.

Though Canadian airlines have temporarily suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, flights departing Canadian cities to sun destinations are available aboard U.S. carriers.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, for example, are selling tickets for flights from Toronto to Cancun, with passengers connecting through U.S. cities like Charlotte, NC, and Philadelphia, PA, an online search shows.

Canadian airlines have been losing market share over the last several months to foreign carriers, which, unlike Canadian airlines, have received sector-specific aid from their governments, said Mike McNaney, the president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada.

“We assume the government is also engaging foreign operators on this issue to ensure we are all taking the same concerted approach,” McNaney said.

American Airlines said it had no schedule changes to share. Delta didn’t immediately comment.

READ MORE: Airlines have turned away hundreds of passengers since launch of new testing mandate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canadian airlines had agreed to suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

The prime minister announced the suspensions along with stricter measures aimed at reducing international travel, including a requirement that entrants to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.

On Monday, Bloc Quebecois Transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval highlighted the loophole, saying in a statement that the flight suspensions put Canadian companies at a disadvantage.

Asked why Canadian airlines suspended routes while American carriers continue to operate flights to the same destinations, Morgan Bell, a spokeswoman for WestJet, said Transport Canada would have to clarify.

“Recognizing that air travel represents less than two per cent of the transmission of COVID, the government asked us to stop flying to these destinations out of an abundance of caution, and we agreed,” Bell said.

Transport Canada didn’t respond to an email requesting comment.

The new restrictions come weeks after Canada implemented a requirement that all air passengers travelling to Canada produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

READ MORE: As U.K. travel ban lifts, new pre-flight COVID-19 test rules will come into effect in Canada

The testing mandate caused an immediate drop in flight bookings, airlines said, leading to additional layoffs. With the latest restrictions, experts say they expect further layoffs, along with potential bankruptcies, if government aid for the sector doesn’t materialize.

The suspensions of flights to sun destinations will cost Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, around $200 million in lost revenue between now and April 30, industry analyst John Gradek said.

Airlines have been in negotiations with the government for months about the terms of an aid package, with Ottawa saying that any federal funding for airlines would be contingent on their issuing full refunds to passengers who had their flights cancelled during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Non-essential travellers to pay mandatory test, hotel costs as Trudeau announces new COVID rules

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirustravel

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

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
COVID restrictions for retail, sports and performers further eased

Occupancy in stores and malls boosted to 25 per cent from 15 per cent

Advocate file image
Red Deer COVID cases continue to decline

249 cases in Red Deer, down from 565 peak on Feb. 22

(Photo from Highway 11 Functional Planning Study)
Public input wanted for Highway 11 improvement plan

Round 2 of public online engagement continues until March 10

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A SAGA member (left) poses as Jessi Hanks (right) with Castle Restaurant puts up a safe space sticker to display on the restaurant’s front door. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
SAGA Wetaskiwin works with local businesses to display they are a safe space

The safe space stickers show that its a safe and inclusive space.

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta Appeal Court orders 3rd trial for parents in toddler’s meningitis death

Stephans were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for Ezekiel, who had meningitis when he died

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
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Most Read