YVR has seen traffic increase in step with every relaxation of restrictions, although countries remain on guard against successive, variant-driven waves of COVID-19
Derrick Penner • Publishing date: Aug 03, 2021
German national air carrier Lufthansa has reinstated flights between Vancouver and Munich, adding its name to a growing list of airlines that are expanding operations ahead of Canada’s expected reopening to international travel on Sept. 7.
The first Lufthansa flight departed YVR on Saturday evening, with three-days-a-week service including Mondays and Thursdays, increasing to five flights per week in September, in addition to six flights a week to Frankfurt that are already on the airline’s schedule.
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“Canada is a key pillar of Lufthansa Group’s transatlantic routes and relationships with North America,” Lufthansa manager Brendan Shashoua said in a statement, noting that the company’s restart of service from Vancouver comes ahead of Washington, D.C., Miami and San Francisco this fall.
At YVR, Lufthansa joins a list of airlines that includes American, Aeromexico, Air Transat and Sunwing that have been restoring service, according to a statement from airport staff.
Vancouver International saw 150,000 passengers pass through its terminals last week, compared with just 72,000 for the same week a year ago, but still a far cry from its pre-COVID summer passenger loads of 90,000 to 100,000 passengers per day.
The airport expects those counts to increase to 161,000 passengers per week over the remainder of the summer.
On July 19, when Canada announced its plan to relax quarantine restrictions on visitors, airport executive Robyn McVickers told Postmedia that travel increased “exponentially” after lifting restrictions on Canadian citizens returning to Canada and anticipated a similar level of growth when tourists are allowed.
However, while the international airline industry is under pressure to reconnect air travel, which remained down 71 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, according to an industry association, countries remain on guard for successive waves driven by COVID variants and uneven levels of vaccination.
Lufthansa expects there to be “pent-up demand” for travel, but Canada hasn’t dropped its advisory recommending against non-essential travel outside the country, including to Germany, telling Canadians, “If you must travel, check the risk levels specific to your destination.”
Lufthansa is advising passengers that they will need to research travel requirements and entry regulations, which for Germany include vaccination or testing.
On July 4, Germany lifted entry restrictions for Canadians to enter the country by air “for all travel purposes,” provided they can show vaccination status, proof of recovery from COVID, or negative test results, similar to the requirements Canada will have in place as of Sept. 7.
Canada is expected to drop its quarantine requirements for non-essential visitors starting Aug. 9 for Americans then Sept. 7 for international travellers, although Germany also continues to recommend against non-essential travel outside of the country for its citizens.
Germany also plans to offer booster COVID-19 shots of mRNA vaccines to vulnerable individuals, according to the Reuters news agency. The country has reported about 2,000 new infections per day since July 29.