Air Canada, WestJet, Transat, Sunwing and more: The latest updates amid the coronavirus pandemic

From TravelWeek – link to source story

12 January 2021 Update | Posted by Travelweek Group

TORONTO — Canada’s airlines took swift action amid border closures and travel restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s the latest from Canada’s airlines. This list is updated as we receive new information from each company. The latest information can always be found at the company’s website.

LATEST UPDATE: Jan.12 – Porter Airlines; Dec. 17 – WestJet; Dec. 14 – Sunwing; Dec. 3 – Air Canada


AIR CANADA

UPDATED DEC. 3: Air Canada says Aeroplan Members making an eligible new booking with Air Canada originating in Canada will receive complimentary Manulife COVID-19 Emergency Medical and Quarantine Insurance. The shift to offer the free coverage to only Aeroplan members took effect Dec. 1, for bookings made Dec. 1, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2020. Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is free to join.


FLAIR AIRLINES

UPDATED JUNE 4: Flair Airlines has announced that it will resume service to Kelowna and Winnipeg while delaying the launch of other destinations as part of its new summer schedule. Its current route schedule will be expanded to include both Kelowna and Winnipeg in addition to Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. However, as a result of ongoing travel restrictions, Flair will also be delaying the launch of service into Ottawa and Atlantic Canada. Full refunds are being offered to passengers booked on cancelled flights to the affected destinations: Ottawa, Halifax, Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown. Impacted guests will be contacted through email with instructions on how to receive their refunds. The airline’s latest change policies are at https://flyflair.com/travel-info/customer-service/covid-19-updates.


PORTER AIRLINES

UPDATED JAN. 12: Porter Airlines has pushed back its planned restart date to March 29. The airline previously suspended operations until Feb. 11 but according to president and CEO Michael Deluce, more time is needed as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continue across Canada. More details are here.


SUNWING

UPDATED DEC. 14: Sunwing has restarted its winter sun program with current gateways Toronto and Montreal, and destinations Cancun, Jamaica and Punta Cana. Sunwing is also adding sun flights out of Western Canada.  Flights will depart from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to Cancun on Saturdays starting Jan. 9, 2021, with additional flight service from Edmonton to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan on  Saturdays starting Dec. 26, 2020.

Sunwing has also resumed flights to Cuba, onboard Sunwing Airlines, with weekly flights departing from Toronto and Montreal to Varadero.

Sunwing’s flexible booking options include the option to change or cancel travel plans anytime with ease, monthly payment options and complimentary Price Drop Cash Back of up to $800 per couple. Plus, select packages booked during the sale for departures between now and Dec. 31, 2021 include COVID-19 coverage at no additional cost.

Sunwing customers with departure dates for flights or vacation packages between March 17 and August 31 are eligible to receive a future travel credit in the value of the original amount paid. No action needed. The credit can be redeemed against future travel to anywhere Sunwing Airlines operates, depending on original departure date. Original departure dates between March 17 and May 31, 2020 are redeemable up to June 20, 2022. Original departure dates June 1 – August 31 2020, are redeemable up to August 31, 2022.

For the most up to date information see https://www.sunwing.ca/en/promotion/packages/travel-advisory/.


SWOOP

UPDATED NOV. 16: Swoop is now offering ‘Trustred Travel Getaways’, a limited offering of vacation packages to Montego Bay with departures from Toronto starting Dec. 19. Swoop’s packages are in partnership with IHG Hotels & Resorts, with accommodation at the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive. Free access to mandatory pre-travel COVID-19 testing will ensure that all passengers onboard a departing Trusted Travel Getaway flight have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Flights will operate from Toronto to Montego Bay on Dec. 19, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Packages include and Swoop’s free TuGo Travel Insurance COVID-19 coverage.


TRANSAT

UPDATED SEPT. 28: Transat passengers can now benefit from a COVID-19 Emergency Medical Certificate of Insurance. The insurance plan, offered through Manulife, is designed to cover emergency medical and quarantine expenses at destination, in addition to providing assistance if COVID-19 is contracted during the trip. Passengers who book a roundtrip flight from Canada to an international Air Transat destination or a Transat package to Mexico, Central or South America, or the Caribbean, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31, 2020, for stays of up to 21 days, for departures between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, will be covered by the new insurance at no extra cost.

Transat’s 2020-2021 winter program features flights to dozens of destinations as well as packages to hundreds of hotels in the South and Europe. Earlier Transat announced that it had suspended all flights from Western Canada to south and USA destinations for winter 2020-2021. Transat announced on July 22 that its FTCs are now fully transferable, with no expiry date. As before, any residual credit will remain on file. The new policy applies to flights, packages and guided tours. However, it excludes credits received for cruises that are subject to their own cruise lines’ conditions. More information for Transat can be found  at https://www.airtransat.com/en-CA/book/resumption-of-our-operations#%2Fresults.


WESTJET

UPDATED DEC. 17: WestJet has updated its January 2021 schedule, with flights to 57 destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Central America, Canada and the United States, including Hawaii. In addition to flights to Liberia in Costa Rica, and Ixtapa/Ziuantanejo in Mexico, both from Calgary, January’s schedule also features the resumption of service between Kona, Hawaii and Vancouver as well as Aruba-Toronto. Dreamliner service between Calgary and Cancun kicks off on Jan. 8, 2021 while service to Puerto Vallarta will start Jan. 23.

Through TuGo, any WestJet air-only reservation including WestJet Vacations bookings for travel to and from Mexico, the Caribbean,  the U.S., Europe (including the U.K.) and inbound to Canada will provide eligible passengers no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance.

On Oct. 21 WestJet announced it will voluntarily provide refunds to original form of payment for guests with flights cancelled by WestJet and Swoop, from any time period, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found here.

Earlier WestJet announced it was offering refunds for select flights that include a U.S. or UK destination. The refunds apply to U.S. and UK flights March 1 – June 30. On Sept. 15 it added Europe to its refund-eligible list, for flights to or from Europe and scheduled to depart between March 1 and Oct. 31.

Effective Nov. 2 all WestJet flights to and from Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City will be suspended indefinitely. Service to and from Halifax and St. John’s will see cuts. All told the move will impact more than 100 flights per week, or almost 80% of seat capacity from the Atlantic region. WestJet says a return to service date is unknown at this time. Passengers impacted by the suspension of operations will be contacted directly regarding their options for travel to and from the region.

COVID-infected flights fall sharply across Canada

From Toronto Sun – link to source story

Bryan Passifiume  •  Nov 23, 2020

Pearson International airport was practically vacant at Terminal 1  except for a few international flyers  on Thursday April 2, 2020. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Toronto Pearson International Airport on April 2, 2020. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Toronto Sun

Only five international and six domestic flights with passengers infected with COVID-19 landed at Canadian airports last week.

That’s compared to 44 international and 60 domestic flights recorded the week previous, according to publicly available data from Health Canada.

Five of the six domestic flights occurred on Nov. 16 — Swoop 406 between Toronto and Abbotsford, PAL Airlines 1902 between Quebec City and Sept-Iles, Jazz 8280 between Vancouver and Prince Rupert, Air Canada 341 between Ottawa and Vancouver, and Air Canada 209 between Calgary and Vancouver.

The sixth flight was Air Canada 428 from Toronto to Montreal on Nov. 17.

Internationally, only two infected flights originated from the United States,  both from Chicago — United 4552 to Toronto on Nov. 16 and Air Canada 7596 to Montreal on Nov. 17

Other international flights include Air Canada 989 from Cancun to Montreal and Rouge 1994 from Mexico City to Toronto — both on Nov. 17 — and Turkish Airlines 17 from Istanbul to Toronto on Nov. 18, the only non-North American flight to carry COVID-positive passengers.

Calgary, home to the federal government’s pilot program testing international arrivals for COVID-19, recorded no infected passengers over the past week, down from two the week previous.

Turkish Airlines has carried the most COVID-19 infected passengers of any international carrier over the past two weeks — seven to Toronto and one to Montreal.

Health Canada only posts data online from the past two weeks, and does not list how many passengers on board tested positive, only — when available — listing ranges of row numbers of where the person may have sat.

Data on infections comes from a variety of sources, states Health Canada, including contact tracing and information from local public health authorities.

Thirty-six infected domestic and international flights landed in Toronto since Nov. 8, the highest in Canada, while 24 landed at Vancouver, 19 at Montreal and six at Calgary.

Since March, only four Canadian airports — Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver — are permitted to accept international flights, with some exceptions.

Swoop announces new way for Canadians to vacation with confidence this winter

Pre-departure COVID-19 testing for peak holiday travel now available

TORONTO, Nov. 12, 2020 /CNW/ – Swoop, the ultra-not-expensive airline, today announced Trusted Travel Getaways: packaged vacations designed to enable Canadians to enjoy a warm-weather vacation with confidence this winter. This limited offering of vacation packages aims to provide travellers with enhanced peace of mind throughout their travel journey. Trusted Travel Getaways will operate to Montego Bay, Jamaica, departing from Toronto beginning December 19.

Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay (CNW Group/Swoop)

Launched in partnership with IHG® Hotels & Resorts, travellers will be provided with  accommodation at the Holiday Inn Resort® Montego Bay All-Inclusive. As an added measure of comfort, travellers will receive complimentary access to mandatory pre-travel COVID-19 testing to ensure that all passengers on-board a departing Trusted Travel Getaway flight have proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

“We’ve heard from many Canadians who are eager to get away this winter but want to do so responsibly,” said Bert van der Stege, Head of Commercial, Swoop. “Swoop and IHG Hotels & Resorts have a shared focus on thorough health and hygiene protocols. We believe that the inclusion of free COVID-19 insurance along with the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding will ensure that sun-seeking Ontarians can travel confidently from Toronto Pearson.” 

To reassure those on board a Trusted Travel Getaway flight, all travellers will be required to undergo a pre-departure COVID-19 test. Swoop has arranged for a leading Canadian laboratory service provider to administer the required testing at no additional cost to the traveller.

 “While testing is currently not a requirement for Canadians to enter Jamaica, we look forward to offering this additional screening measure to provide enhanced peace of mind for our travellers,” continued van der Stege.

With service from Toronto to Montego Bay, Jamaica on December 19, December 26, and January 2, travellers departing from Toronto Pearson International Airport will find Trusted Travel Getaway packages starting at $1450 per traveller, including round-trip flights, 7-nights all-inclusive accommodation at the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive, hotel ground transfers, and Swoop’s complimentary TuGo® Travel Insurance COVID-19 coverage

The Holiday Inn Resort property in Montego Bay offers travellers beachfront access, all-inclusive meal plans and enhanced cleanliness measures to support a worry-free vacation. Through its IHG® Clean Promise, the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive has expanded its commitment to cleanliness by increasing COVID-19 precautions, including proactive cleaning, regular temperature checks of employees and mask requirements for both employees and guests.

“In response to COVID-19, we have redefined our already rigorous commitment to cleanliness,” said Nicola Madden-Greig, Director of Marketing & Sales, Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive. “Through our IHG Clean Promise, Canadians staying at the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive can expect their well-being to be our top priority throughout their stay.”

The Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive is located in one of Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors, which were created to manage movement and require all operating hotels to conform to a rigorous set of COVID-19 protocols, approved by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

As per current regulations, travellers returning home must complete the ArriveCAN entry requirements and follow the Government of Canada’s mandated quarantine, regardless of the results of their pre-departure COVID-19 test. 

Trusted Travel Getaways will be available for booking at FlySwoop.com, beginning November 12, 2020, through Swoop’s Getaways booking engine. 

WestJet pilots protest ‘outsourced’ flights to Swoop in Calgary

From Global News – link to story

By Kaylen Small Global News | October 25, 2020

WestJet pilots protested in Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020.
WestJet pilots protested in Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Global News

About 50 WestJet pilots protested outside the Calgary International Airport on Sunday to draw attention to what they call the “outsourcing” of WestJet flights to low-cost carrier Swoop.

Though both are owned by the same company — the WestJet Group — protesters said Swoop is flying WestJet’s routes, which means fewer hours for WestJet pilots.

“The biggest issue for us is routes that have been flown by WestJet Airlines over the last two decades are now being flown by Swoop,” said Capt. Dave Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council chair.

“When Swoop was initially envisioned, we were told that wouldn’t happen. Now that it started to happen, especially out of Toronto, we’re concerned about that and we want to bring that concern to the public view.”

Colquhoun said pilots want to see the WestJet Group consult all members on how to grow Swoop.

“They’ve done it unilaterally and they’ve done it in an environment where just recently we gave in major concessions to help them weather the storm,” he said.

“Our pilots have taken substantial cuts in wages and working conditions in order to help our airline through this pandemic. Right now, our guys are flying about a half to a third of what they were a year ago.”

The WestJet Group responded to the union’s concerns, telling Global News that Swoop is important to the company’s future.“[Swoop] is well-positioned to serve price-sensitive travellers while stimulating demand in Canada’s largest market,” it said.

“After a drop in guest traffic of up to 95 per cent and with recovery slower than anticipated, stimulating demand in our industry is critical for our group’s survival. Toronto is our country’s largest air travel market, and every guest who flies with WestJet, Encore or Swoop is a win for our group, assisting in our recovery and supporting our collective future.”

The WestJet Group said its focus is “ensuring we have a long-term sustainable future” while “providing good jobs for thousands.”

There is no anticipated impact on WestJet operations.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Swoop Reaffirms Commitment to Edmonton

The ultra-not-expensive airline kicks off its winter schedule with inaugural flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport and seasonal start of Phoenix-Mesa and Mexico flights

EDMONTON, AB, Oct. 25, 2020 /CNW/ – Swoop, the ultra-not-expensive airline, reaffirmed its commitment to Edmonton International Airport today with the launch of its winter schedule including the addition of non-stop service to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

“We are excited to be expanding our ultra-low cost carrier model from Edmonton by adding Toronto to our network” said Bert van der Stege, Head of Commercial & Finance at Swoop. “We know that Canadians are cautious about travelling, and with the significant health and safety measures we have put in place, travellers can rest assured that their safety is our top priority.”  

The inaugural winter schedule operations this week will also include a return to popular sun destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Phoenix-Mesa, while continuing to serve Abbotsford and Hamilton from Edmonton International Airport.

“We’ve clearly heard from sun seekers that they’re looking for options this winter. Thanks to Swoop, we’re able to help meet that demand. Safety and security is our top priority and we’re confident EIA is ready for these flights in close partnership with the airline. These flights will be safe and will make it possible for local travellers, including snowbirds, to still get their traditional winter break,” says Tom Ruth, President & CEO, Edmonton International Airport. 

“In a challenging year like we are having, we know that it is more important than ever to help Canadians connect with family and friends. We want to help travellers do that safely, responsibly and affordably,” van der Stege added.

Some of the health and safety measures Swoop has introduced includes stricter boarding processes allowing for shorter queue wait times, enhanced screening measures, increased sanitization, and enforcing face masks to be worn for the duration of the flight.  

Additionally, all transborder and international round-trip Swoop flight and Swoop Getaways bookings include no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance coverage. This complimentary coverage is added to eligible bookings automatically at time of purchase, made on or after Oct. 15 for travel until Apr. 24, 2021, and is valid for up to 21 days in destination. 

The start of its winter schedule marks the next step in Swoop’s recovery efforts while remaining true to its mission of offering accessible and affordable air travel to Canadians. As the country’s largest ultra-low cost carrier, the airline is uniquely positioned to help drive industry recovery with price-sensitive travellers.  

Swoop Takes Off From Toronto Pearson Airport

The airline kicks off its winter schedule with inaugural flights from YYZ
bringing its ultra-low fares to Canada’s largest city

TORONTO, Oct. 25, 2020 /CNW/ – Today Swoop launched its operations at Toronto Pearson Airport, safely completing flights from Toronto to destinations in Montego Bay, Edmonton, Kelowna and Halifax. The inaugural operations continue this week with additional flights to destinations such as Abbotsford and Cancun.  

Swoop and GTAA representatives see off the ultra-low fare airline's inaugural flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport. Pictured left to right: Julien Carron, John Sharp and Craig Bradbrook of GTAA, alongside Charles Duncan, Colleen Ham and Bert van der Stege of Swoop. (CNW Group/Swoop)
Swoop and GTAA representatives see off the ultra-low fare airline’s inaugural flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport. Pictured left to right: Julien Carron, John Sharp and Craig Bradbrook of GTAA, alongside Charles Duncan, Colleen Ham and Bert van der Stege of Swoop. (CNW Group/Swoop)
Swoop President, Charles Duncan and GTAA Chief Operations Officer, Craig Bradbrook celebrating Swoop’s inaugural flights out of Toronto Pearson International Airport. (CNW Group/Swoop)
Swoop President, Charles Duncan and GTAA Chief Operations Officer, Craig Bradbrook celebrating Swoop’s inaugural flights out of Toronto Pearson International Airport. (CNW Group/Swoop)

This begins the airline’s winter schedule which includes the return to Kelowna International Airport and the addition of non-stop service to popular sun destinations. With its accessible and affordable airfares, Swoop is connecting more Canadians in the GTA with a safe and responsible travel option.

“We are excited to be able to bring our ultra-low cost carrier model to Toronto and serve Canada’s largest city,” says Charles Duncan, President, Swoop. “We know that Canadians are cautious about travelling, and with the significant health and safety measures we have put in place, travellers can rest assured that their safety is our top priority.”

“We’re pleased to welcome Swoop to Toronto Pearson, offering yet another choice for our valued passengers,” says Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. “Toronto Pearson is committed to offering an enjoyable airport experience that is focused on health from curb to boarding and back again.”

The airline’s scheduled winter service from Toronto Pearson International Airport includes direct flights to Kelowna, Abbotsford, Halifax and Edmonton. Popular sun destinations are also available such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Montego Bay and Cancun supported by Swoop Getaways flight plus hotel packages, powered by Expedia. As part of its winter schedule and Swoop’s commitment to the region, the airline will continue to serve Hamilton with multiple flights per week to Edmonton and Abbotsford.

“In a challenging year like we are having, we want to help Canadians connect with family and friends or travel south safely this winter season, which is why we are proud to offer direct, non-stop flights, and Getaways all at an affordable price tag,” states Duncan.

Some of the health and safety measures Swoop has introduced includes stricter boarding processes allowing for shorter queue wait times, traveller screening measures, increased sanitization, and enforcing face masks to be worn for the duration of the flight.

Additionally, every transborder and international round-trip Swoop flight and Getaways booking now includes no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance coverage. This complimentary coverage is automatically included on eligible bookings at time of purchase for bookings made on and after October 15, 2020, for travel until April 24, 2021, and is valid for up to 21 days. One-way travel is excluded.

The start of its winter schedule marks the next step in Swoop’s recovery efforts while remaining true to its mission of offering accessible and affordable air travel to Canadians. As the country’s largest ultra-low cost carrier, the airline is uniquely positioned to help drive industry recovery with price-sensitive travellers.

Highlights about Swoop’s service from Toronto for travel between October 25, 2020 – April 24, 2021 are outlined below. Schedules are subject to change due to travel advisories, health and safety conditions and traveller demand. For peace of mind, travellers can purchase ModiFly, which allows them to make a one-time change to the date and time of their booking.

  • Toronto and Abbotsford will operate up to 6x weekly, with service every day except Saturday
  • Toronto and Edmonton will operate 6x weekly with service every day except Saturday
  • Toronto and Kelowna will operate up to 4x weekly with service on Monday, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • Toronto and Halifax will operate daily
  • Toronto and Las Vegas will operate up to 4x weekly on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday
  • Toronto and Orlando will operate up to 5x weekly on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Toronto and Tampa Bay will operate up to 4x weekly on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • Toronto and Cancun will operate up to 5x weekly, with service on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Toronto and Montego Bay will operate up to 5x weekly, with service on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

For more information, please visit www.flyswoop.com

Cargo activity up by 20% at Hamilton’s international airport during pandemic

From Global News – link to story

By Lisa Polewski 900 CHML, Posted October 20, 2020

Hamilton International Airport (Twitter: @flyyhm)

Despite fewer people travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a lot of activity at Hamilton’s airport.

Cargo activity at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport — measured in maximum take-off weight — was up 20 per cent in September, compared to the same time period in 2019.

Dina Carlucci, director of business development and customer experience for the airport, said the “lion’s share” of that traffic has been driven by e-commerce, primarily through Cargojet and DHL — two of the airport’s major carriers.

“E-commerce has been what has caused these airlines to thrive in years past, even before the pandemic,” said Carlucci. “And while the pandemic is now underway, if you will, more people are staying home and gravitating to new habits like shopping online.”

She said that trend is expected to continue as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

“Our cargo airline partners have told us that through the pandemic, they’re already operating at Christmas-peak levels. So one can only imagine what the fourth quarter will entail.”

Cathie Puckering, the airport’s president and CEO, said shipments of medical supplies and personal protective equiment (PPE) also contributed to the rise in cargo activity.

“Starting in late March, early April, the airport has moved … about 100 flights now that are directly related to PPE, medical supplies, and those COVID-related goods, and that’s continuing to hold true today,” Puckering said during an interview on Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

She said recent infrastructure investments like the DHL expansion and the airfield rehabilitation project are paving the way for even more growth.

“Those decisions were made in 2019 to quadruple capacity in Hamilton, and getting prepared for the emerging opportunities that were coming ahead in the next three, five years … the growth has just doubled earlier than they had expected.”

Puckering also cited the recent announcement about Amazon’s plans to build a fulfillment centre near the airport.

While no official partnership between Amazon and the airport has been established, Carlucci said they’ve engaged in “preliminary discussions” with both the company and the developer — adding that Cargojet is already in a partnership with Amazon.

In the meantime, passenger traffic at the airport is down by as much as 60 per cent compared to this time last year.

Carlucci said that’s unsurprising, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19, and said it could be much worse.

“We’ve heard of cases where some airports are down 90 per cent. We know of airports in the region that are completely closed and haven’t reopened since the pandemic started. So, it really does depend on which airlines you feature, and is there a demand for the … services that the airline provides.”

Low-cost carrier Swoop airlines announced last month that it would no longer offer certain flights from Hamilton, opting to move the bulk of its operations to Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

Carlucci said Swoop has been able to operate “relatively successfully” during the summer, despite reducing their schedule.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Air Canada, WestJet, Transat, Sunwing and more: The latest updates amid the coronavirus pandemic

From Travelweek Canada – link to story

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 by Travelweek Group

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

TORONTO — Canada’s airlines have taken swift action amid border closures and travel restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In many cases airlines have temporarily suspended operations entirely.

Here’s the latest from Canada’s airlines. Updates will be added as soon as they become available.

LATEST UPDATE: Sept. 18 – Air Canada, Sunwing and WestJet; Sept. 9 – Porter Airlines; Sept. 4 – Swoop; Aug. 26 – Air Canada; Aug. 10 – Sunwing; Aug. 5 – Transat


AIR CANADA

UPDATED SEPT. 18: Air Canada is now flying to a select network of domestic, transborder and international destinations. Air Canada’s complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical and quarantine insurance, underwritten by Manulife, is available to eligible customers booking roundtrip international flights. It applies to new bookings made in Canada from Sept. 17 until Oct. 31, 2020, inclusive, for travel completed by April 12, 2021.

On Aug. 24, Air Canada announced that passengers with new or existing bookings made by Sept. 30, 2020 for original travel March 1, 2020 – Sept. 30, 2021 can make a one-time change without a fee. Passengers who booked directly with Air Canada who need to cancel for any reason can convert their ticket to an Air Canada travel voucher, with no expiry date, or to Aeroplan Miles with 65% bonus miles. Updated network information can be found here


FLAIR AIRLINES

UPDATED JUNE 4: Flair Airlines has announced that it will resume service to Kelowna and Winnipeg while delaying the launch of other destinations as part of its new summer schedule. Its current route schedule will be expanded to include both Kelowna and Winnipeg in addition to Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. However, as a result of ongoing travel restrictions, Flair will also be delaying the launch of service into Ottawa and Atlantic Canada. Full refunds are being offered to passengers booked on cancelled flights to the affected destinations: Ottawa, Halifax, Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown. Impacted guests will be contacted through email with instructions on how to receive their refunds. The airline’s latest change policies are at https://flyflair.com/travel-info/customer-service/covid-19-updates.


PORTER AIRLINES

UPDATED SEPT. 9: Porter Airlines has pushed back its restart to Nov. 12. Porter is waiving change and cancellation fees on all fares booked through Nov. 12, including Porter Escapes vacation packages. See https://s3.amazonaws.com/eporter.flyporter.com/Suspension/index.html.


SUNWING

UPDATED SEPT. 18: Sunwing has announced it will be offering a limited schedule in September with service from Toronto to Cancun, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Punta Cana and Montego Bay, as well as from Montreal to Cancun, Punta Cana, Varadero and Cayo Coco. Sunwing has partnered with Manulife to offer the COVID-19 Emergency Medical Certificate of Insurance at no additional cost to customers. It is included in all Sunwing vacation packages (excluding cruises) and air-only bookings with Sunwing Airlines (for a duration of 21 days or less) made between now and Oct. 31, 2020 for departures from Oct. 16, 2020 up to and including May 31, 2021.

Passengers with departures dates for flights or vacation packages March 17 – Aug. 31 are eligible to receive a future travel credit for the value of the original amount paid. Credits can be redeemed against future travel to anywhere Sunwing Airlines operates, depending on the original departure date. For original departure dates between March 17 and May 31, 2020, future travel credits are redeemable up to June 20, 2022. For original departure dates June 1 – Aug. 31, 2020, future travel credits are redeemable up to Aug. 31, 2022. For the most up to date information see https://www.sunwing.ca/en/promotion/packages/travel-advisory/.


SWOOP

UPDATED SEPT. 4: Swoop is set to resume operations from Pearson Airport on Oct. 25, to destinations including Montego Bay, Cancun, Las Vegas, Orlando and Tampa Bay. It will also resume operations at Kelowna International Airport for the winter season, plus flights are available from Edmonton as well.


TRANSAT

UPDATED AUG. 5: Transat has unveiled its 2020-2021 winter program, featuring flights to dozens of destinations as well as packages to hundreds of hotels in the South and Europe. Earlier Transat announced that it had suspended all flights from Western Canada to south and USA destinations for winter 2020-2021. Transat announced on July 22 that its FTCs are now fully transferable, with no expiry date. As before, any residual credit will remain on file. The new policy applies to flights, packages and guided tours. However, it excludes credits received for cruises that are subject to their own cruise lines’ conditions. More information for Transat can be found  at https://www.airtransat.com/en-CA/book/resumption-of-our-operations#%2Fresults.


WESTJET

UPDATED SEPT. 18: Starting Oct. 4 WestJet will operate flights to 48 destinations including 39 in Canada, three in the U.S. and three in Mexico, two in Jamaica and one in the UK.

Through its new partner TuGo, and for reservations made on or after Sept. 18, 2020, any WestJet air-only reservation including WestJet Vacations bookings for travel to and from Mexico, the Caribbean (excluding the U.S.), Europe (including the U.K.) and inbound to Canada will provide eligible passengers no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance.

On June 1 WestJet announced it was offering refunds for select flights that include a U.S. or UK destination. The refunds apply to U.S. and UK flights March 1 – June 30. On Sept. 15 it added Europe to its refund-eligible list, for flights to or from Europe and scheduled to depart between March 1 and Oct. 31.

Flyht Works to Speed Aviation Industry Recovery with New Actionable Intelligence Suite of Applications

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd. (TSX-V: FLY) (OTCQX: FLYLF) (the “Company” or “Flyht”) today announced that the Company has developed and is delivering phase one of the Actionable Intelligence suite of SaaS applications. These developments will enable Flyht to combine its proven history of collecting, analysing and reporting aircraft operational data with IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog and IBM Cloud Pak for Data to enhance efficiency, cost and the goal of on time operations for clients like China Express Airlines, Swoop Airlines and its other global customers.  

Flyht currently has more than 2,800 aircraft equipped with the patented AFIRSTM system, and provides data analytics and reporting to more than 80 aircraft operators around the globe. The operation supports airlines 24/7 as they face challenges presented by weather, technical or air traffic delays, safety and regulatory changes, economic swings, and even the current pandemic.  

For over 20 years Flyht has helped its customers manage operations and control costs with both airborne and ground solutions. The new solution, Actionable Intelligence, uses real time data capabilities to create profit-driving actions rather than simply recording history and showing where money was lost. The solution assists airlines with analyzing and optimizing flight planning operations to improve efficiency, cost, and the goal of on time operations for its customers.  Combined with the power of AFIRS, the solution incorporates real time alerting on events that might cause delays if not actioned in a timely manner. Flyht’s customers currently project that the investment of $5 million in airborne hardware will deliver $40 million in annual profit enhancement, producing a one-year return on investment of 800 percent.

Actionable Intelligence runs on IBM Cloud Pak for Data, an integrated set of data and AI capabilities built on Red Hat OpenShift, that enables the solution to request immediate action to reduce time and costs associated with turnaround of an aircraft. Using IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog enables Flyht to use machine learning to expand these capabilities over time to become faster and more accurate in providing the profit enhancing opportunities.

Bill Tempany, Interim CEO of Flyht, says that “the solutions that are being delivered in conjunction with our launch technology partner airlines will revolutionize the way the airlines manage their businesses, satisfy their customers and adjust to the new reality that will evolve as the industry recovers from the pandemic. We are proud to be doing work to help the aviation industry recover from the unprecedented events of 2020.”

Charles Duncan, President of Swoop stated that “the power of the Watson tools along with real time data from our aircraft integrated with our existing ground based applications give Swoop the opportunity to be the industry leader in Actionable Intelligence. We are confident that our partnership with Flyht and IBM will have long lasting positive effects on our profits and how we operate our business.”

China Express Airlines stated that “Flyht is a valued technology partner. We already have AFIRS installed on our CRJ and A320 fleets and look forward to the ability to have Actionable Intelligence delivered on our enabled aircraft.”

Flyht announced a refreshed group of products and services at their AGM on June 23, 2020 that included the use of state of the art technologies as an IBM Business Partner that will help Flyht’s customers lead the recovery of the industry.

Swoop airline ends some flights from Hamilton airport

From Global News – link to story

By Don Mitchell Global News ~ September 4, 2020

A Boeing 737 (737-800) jetliner, belonging to low-cost carrier Swoop, lands at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, on Tues., Feb. 26, 2019.
A Boeing 737 (737-800) jetliner, belonging to low-cost carrier Swoop, lands at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, on Tues., Feb. 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Low-cost carrier Swoop airlines will soon have only a single destination to and from Hamilton International Airport as the airline cancelled routes due to struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an e-mail to Global News, the carrier revealed that its eight flights weekly to and from Abbotsford, B.C., and six to and from Halifax will be no longer as of Oct. 23.

The carrier’s only remaining destination from John C. Munro will be service to Edmonton, which will operate up to four times weekly with service on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The news comes a day after the carrier revealed its new operations out of Pearson International Airport in Toronto, which go into effect on Oct. 25, two days after the Hamilton flights discontinue.

A number of the airline’s flights to sun destinations, like Cancun, Las Vegas and Orlando, will also now operate out of Toronto.

“Our winter schedule is in response to a growing rebound in travel, as we know travellers are eager to plan their next getaway,” president Charles Duncan said in a release on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Larissa Mark told Global News the changes were based on the airline’s pandemic recovery plan and are indicative of current demand from the airline.

“We will continue to serve the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport as we feel this is a market that has served Swoop well and still holds opportunities for us,” Mark said.

“We are thankful for the continued support of the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport now and during our first two years of operation.”

Dina Carlucci, director of business development and customer experience for the Hamilton airport, told Global News that the move away from John C. Munro was not “good news,” making for “a tough week” for the airport.

“It’s unfortunate news,” Carlucci said.

“Very much positioned around the pandemic and looking at recovery strategies that are going to align with travel demand for them.”

Swoop first signed up with the airport in 2018 as a subsidiary of WestJet and flew to nine destinations across Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Jamaica.

With the changes, the airport is down to only two passenger carriers, Swoop and WestJet, with the latter still operating five flights to Calgary every week.

Prior to the pandemic, Carlucci says the passenger side of the airport’s business was doing well, hitting the one-million mark at the end of 2019.

“We were well on our way to likely meeting or exceeding the one-million mark for 2020,” Carlucci said. “COVID hit and all of a sudden from the second quarter onward our numbers slid.”

Despite passenger capacity being down 92 per cent in the spring, amid the pandemic, Carlucci says the airport is still benefitting from its diversity in other businesses, including cargo, maintenance and repair operations.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.