Air Canada Pauses Flights To 15 Caribbean Destinations (Updates from Westjet, Air Transat & Porter)

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by Andrew Curran | January 10, 2022

Air Canada is suspending flights to 15 warm-weather destinations until April 30. Attributing the suspensions to the “current pandemic context,” Air Canada says it will operate some one way flights from the targeted destinations to get Canadians home.

Air Canada is suspending flights to 15 Caribbean destinations until April 30. Photo: Air Canada

Omicron and do not travel advisories behind flight suspensions

Scratched from the Air Canada timetables between January 24 and the end of April are flights to Antigua, Aruba, Samaná, Curaçao, Exuma, Grenada, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Havana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Behind the flight suspensions is a drop in demand for travel. That drop is fuelled by the rapidly spreading omicron variant and governments encouraging people not to travel unless necessary.

Just last week, Air Canada denied it would suspend flights to the Caribbean and Mexico. Caribbean media were reporting this was the case. The reports were based on an out-of-date press release. While technically correct to flag this error, Air Canada’s denials were followed by the suspension of flights to 15 Caribbean destinations just days later.

Many of the suspensions take effect just weeks after flights launched. Air Canada’s flights from Toronto to George Town, Exuma, only resumed in mid-December. While Air Canada hasn’t detailed its plans yet, the airline will schedule some flights from the impacted destinations to ensure no one gets stranded once the suspensions take effect.

Air Canada has cut off many cold-weather escape options. Photo: Air Canada

All of Canada’s airlines are feeling the pressure

Canada’s airlines (including Air Canada) have canceled more than 500 flights in the last week. Many of those flights were due to head south towards the sun. The cancelations impact all of Canada’s commercial airlines, large and small.

WestJet has trimmed its schedules by 15% this month as that airline deals with declining demand and a high number of employees calling in sick.

“Despite all contingency planning, in addition to hiring back thousands of WestJetters to safely support peak operations, we find ourselves no longer able to predictably resource our planned schedule due to omicron impact and have made the difficult decision to consolidate approximately 15% of scheduled flights through to January 31, 2022,” says WestJet’s Acting CEO, Harry Taylor.

Air Transat has cut its schedules over early 2022 by approximately 30%. They also blame omicron and the Canadian Government for encouraging people to stay at home. Air Transat’s scaled-back timetable runs through to February 25. However, the airline warns further adjustments may occur.

“The lingering effects of the omicron variant and the restrictive measures put in place by the federal government on December 15th have had an impact on our customers’ reservations and cancellation requests,” said an Air Transat spokesperson.

Westjet plane tails in Pearson International Airport.
WestJet has also trimmed its schedules over the next two months. Photo: Getty Images

Canadian Government travel advisory puts the brakes on travel

Even Toronto-based Porter Airlines, only recently back in the air, is eyeing some schedule cuts. It adds up to a bleak winter for Canada’s airlines who’d hoped to do brisk business flying passengers south to warmer climes.

In mid-December, the Canadian Government issued a travel advisory that didn’t ban international travel but definitely didn’t encourage it.

“We see the situation abroad, and we’re afraid and concerned with what could happen to Canadians who would choose to go abroad in the next few weeks,” said Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. “Now is not the time to travel.”

It seems many Canadians are taking the Minister’s advice and Canada’s airlines are among the losers.