Winnipeg airport wants ‘equal footing’ in federal plans to reopen international travel

From CBC News – link to source story

Only Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary allowed to accept international flights

CBC News · Jun 22, 2021

The Winnipeg Airports Authority wants the federal government to come up with a clear plan for reopening all international airports in Canada. (CBC)

The Winnipeg Airports Authority calls the federal government’s plan to restore international flights unfair to smaller cities. 

The federal government announced Monday that it plans to allow fully vaccinated people to return to Canada without quarantining.

Only Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary can accept international flights right now.

“It’s really about our community having access to the rest of the world,” said Tyler MacAfee, vice-president of communications and government relations at the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

“And when we start to look at reopening the country, when the time is right for non-essential travel, we want to be on equal footing with the rest of the country.”

International airlines like Delta haven’t operated in the city since the travel restrictions were imposed, and they need to know now what to expect in the future, MacAfee said.

“It’s not as simple as the government coming out on a Monday and saying that, you know, service can return to this community and having the airlines back on Tuesday. This takes months for the airlines to be ready to do this.”

Airlines have to bring staff back, and many past employees likely have already found new jobs, MacAfee said. 

The airport has seen its business plummet by 85 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, and MacAfee said this summer season is already lost.

MacAfee wants the federal government to lay out a clear path to bring all airports back to full business. 

“We need clarity from the federal government on what those requirements are going to be. What does it take? What does the airline have to do to get that passenger on the plane?”

Earlier this month, the Manitoba government announced it would provide an immunization card to residents two weeks after they’ve received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, which will allow Manitobans to travel within the country without being required to self-isolate for two weeks upon return. 

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson