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

A cougar was sighted in the 500 block of Cedar Avenue in Duncan on May 6 at about 9:30 p.m. (Facebook)
Cougar sighted in residential Duncan

Spotted in the Cairnsmore neighbourhood

The Lake Cowichan branch of the Royal Bank of Canada is closing. (Google)
Lake Cowichan’s RBC branch will close in November

RBC says banking needs will still be met

Robert Stutzman, right, and Ajay Oppelaar are the owners of the new Aloha Bowls and Kahuna Burger on Kenneth Street. The men are preparing the eateries’ patio for when they open for business. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Business notes: 2 Hawaiian-themed eateries opening in Duncan

What’s going on in the Cowichan Valley business community

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read