Temperature screening for air travellers expanded to 11 additional Canadian airports

OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 29, 2020 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis that is having a significant impact on the air industry and Canadian travellers. As we continue to take steps to strengthen Canada’s air transportation network, the Government of Canada continues to implement a multi-layered framework of measures to protect Canadians, and help prevent air travel from being a source for the spread of the virus.

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, has announced implementation of temperature screening for travellers at 11 additional Canadian airports. In June 2020, the Government of Canada announced a multi-phased approach to temperature screenings for all passengers travelling to Canada and travellers departing some Canadian airports, for either international or domestic destinations.

Temperature screening stations have been in place since July 30, 2020 at the four largest airports in Canada:  Montréal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. This includes temperature screening for both departing passengers as well as non-passengers (e.g., airport workers, flight crews).  

Since September 23, 2020, temperature screening is being conducted at these additional Canadian airports: St. John’s, Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto – Billy Bishop, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Kelowna and Victoria. In addition, all employees and personnel that enter or work in the restricted area of these airports are subject to temperature screening procedures by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority personnel.

More and more Canadians and travellers are understanding the importance of staying home when feeling ill, as well as following other important safety measures such as good hygiene practices and wearing face coverings or non-medical masks during their travel.

All passengers who have an elevated temperature and do not have a medical certificate to explain a medical or physical condition that would result in an elevated temperature, are not permitted to continue their travel and are asked to re-book after 14 days.

Quote

“As Minister of Transport, my highest priority is the safety and security of Canadians and the transportation system. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadians have come together, made sacrifices, and done their part to help limit the spread of the virus. Our Government has expanded temperature screenings to major airports across the country to support these efforts and as another measure in our multi-layered approach to help protect the safety of the travelling public and air industry workers. The collective efforts of all Canadians have helped us during the pandemic, and will continue to do so as we move forward.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

Quick Facts

  • Airport temperature screening has been endorsed by the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
  • For international flights to Canada, air operators must conduct temperature screenings at the point of departure, unless the local authority has an equivalent measure in place, in addition to the existing required health check questions for symptoms prior to boarding.
  • Within Canada, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority screeners are conducting the temperature screening of passengers as part of departure screening procedures. This is in addition to the health screening questions and the requirement to wear face coverings that already exist for all passengers.

Associated Links

FLYGTA starting Toronto-Kingston flights in September

From the Kingstonist – link to story

  ~ Samantha Butler-Hassan

The eight-passenger King Air craft will begin operation between Toronto and Kingston four days per week in September. Photo by FLYGTA

The City of Kingston and Tourism Kingston announced today that a Toronto-based airline, FLYGTA, will begin offering flights to Kingston this September. FLYGTA’s service between Norman Rogers Airport and Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island starts on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.

“We are thrilled that our beautiful airport will welcome visitors,” said Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingston.

According to Cameron Thomas, spokesperson for FLYGTA, the flights will operate four days per week, with two daily trips on Thursdays and Fridays, and four flights on Saturdays and Sundays. Thomas said fares will range from $39 to $99 to start, during a three-month promotional period. The airline will operate an eight-passenger, King Air craft.

The City is calling it the first step towards potential daily air service down the road. It also fills the gap left behind by Air Canada, which discontinued flights between Toronto and Kingston in June.

Tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic

According to Tourism Kingston, visitors flying into Kingston will be advised of local COVID-19 restrictions, and offered “specialized packages that combine return airfare with accommodations and regional attractions.”

“It is our mission to promote the local tourism industry, but the number one priority of every Canadian at this time is public health,” Knott said. “This is why the City and Tourism Kingston have worked closely with FLYGTA to ensure that every safety measure is in place so that when regional travellers arrive they know what will be expected of them while staying in Kingston.”

Kingston has been in Stage Three of provincial reopening since Friday, Jul 17, 2020, with relatively low local prevalence of COVID-19. The last five locally confirmed cases of COVID-19, dating back to Friday, Jul 24, were connected to travel outside of the area.

Meanwhile, the province seems to be experiencing a slight resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Ontario has reported over 100 cases per day for the past five days, after dipping as low as only 33 new cases on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The province added 148 new cases on Saturday, Aug. 29, the highest number since Friday, July 24, 2020.

Despite the pandemic, CEO of FLYGTA Group Chris Nowrouzi, said he feels this is the right time to introduce service.

“With most of the province in Stage Three and Ontarians looking for additional travel options, we remain dedicated to serving the needs of Kingston and the regional traveller,” he said. “We…hope together we can support the safe return of Canadian tourism.”

An interior view of the 8-seater King Air craft. Photo provided by FLYGTA.

Mayor welcomes ‘new opportunities for air travel’

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said he’s thrilled to welcome FLYGTA to Kingston. “This partnership will benefit our city’s economic recovery and provide our residents with a fast and convenient link to Toronto,” he said. “It’s exciting to see how the expansion of our airport is creating new opportunities for air travel to and from Kingston.”

Thomas said the airline’s plan to expand into Kingston predate Air Canada’s exit, and the pandemic.

“Kingston was a main market that we’ve been targeting for a while,” Thomas said. “It’s a great summer market. Lots of great tourism to the Thousand Islands, etc. It’s a short flight, plus you’ve got all the schools and students needing to come and go.”

FLYGTA will also provide Kingstonians with a direct link to the Porter Airlines flight terminal on Toronto Island, and its network of North American destination cities.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Announces Launch of Safe Travels Program

Safe Travels Program is an operational program and awareness campaign designed to help passengers, staff and partners travel through Billy Bishop Airport safely and with confidence.

TORONTO, Aug. 31, 2020 /CNW/ – Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) today announced the launch of its Safe Travels Program, a comprehensive initiative developed in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic that includes operational measures and safety protocols that have been implemented to ensure a safe and healthy environment for passengers, staff and partners at Billy Bishop Airport.

Billy Bishop Airport has responded to the emergence of COVID-19 with a comprehensive health and safety program that is aligned with expert guidance and new industry best practices. Under the guidance of provincial and federal agencies such as Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Billy Bishop Airport has worked closely with its partners to implement a number of enhancements, procedures and new infrastructure to provide a safe and healthy environment for passengers, staff and partners.

Porter Airlines and Air Canada temporarily suspended commercial airline service from Billy Bishop Airport in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Safe Travels Program has now been launched and will be in place when the airlines resume operations later this fall.

“The extraordinary impact of this crisis has required an equally extraordinary response on the part of the aviation industry to ensure that passengers feel confident travelling again. The Safe Travels Program encapsulates our commitment to delivering a safe experience for our passengers as well as those who work in the airport,” said Gene Cabral, Executive Vice-President, PortsToronto and Billy Bishop Airport. “Billy Bishop Airport is unique in many ways: its island location, its proximity to Toronto’s downtown core, its unmatched, scenic approach and award-winning passenger experience. It is also unique in that this crisis and the resulting temporary suspension of commercial airline service at Billy Bishop Airport has afforded our team the time to step back, observe and get this right. We look forward to welcoming our passengers back to an enhanced version of the Billy Bishop Airport experience they already know and love.”

While Billy Bishop Airport will continue to incorporate new procedures and innovations to ensure the airport can offer a safe and healthy travel environment, the measures currently in place include:

  • Requiring that face covering/masks be worn by all airport travellers and staff at the airport;
  • Requesting that only travellers with boarding passes and airport staff enter YTZ, with exceptions made for those requiring special assistance;
  • Designated ambassadors at key locations throughout the airport to facilitate passenger flow, communicate occupancy limits, and answer questions;
  • Occupancy limits implemented in close-proximity spaces such as elevators;
  • Implementing clear physical distancing and directional signage throughout the traveller journey to provide information and guidance;
  • Installation of Plexiglas and traffic-flow protocols at face-to-face interaction points;
  • Touchless processing of passenger belongings and documentation to the greatest degree possible;
  • All passenger touch points including counters and screening machines sanitized often;
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures across all high-touch areas and in public spaces, including Foggers and Electrostatic Sprayers equipped with an all-natural, environmentally safe product that eliminates 99.99% of viruses; and,
  • Providing additional hand sanitization stations throughout the airport.

The Safe Travels Program will complement programs in place with resident airlines Porter Airlines and Air Canada and is inclusive of all airport partners including Nieuport Aviation (terminal owners/operators); Stolport (parking) as well as government agencies including CATSA (screening and security) and CBSA (border protection).

Flying through YTZ soon? Click here to chart your path to safe travels.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Wins Airports Council International (North America) Environmental Achievement Award for Master Plan

Third time since 2017 Billy Bishop Airport Has Won Prestigious Environmental Achievement Award

TORONTO, Aug. 26, 2020 /CNW/ – PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, has won the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) Environmental Achievement Award for Environmental Improvement with Limited Resources for the airport’s updated Master Plan. Fittingly entitled Cleaner, Greener, Quieter, the updated Billy Bishop Airport Master Plan demonstrates the significant results that the airport has achieved in sustainability since its 2012 Master Plan was released, and refines its vision to be a global leader in how a modern airport operates in an urban environment.

Established in 1997, the annual Airports Council International Environmental Achievement Awards recognize airports that strive to protect and preserve the environment through their programs, initiatives and projects. The updated Billy Bishop Airport Master Plan, which was released in November 2019, focuses on areas such as infrastructure requirements, activity forecasting, environmental initiatives and future planning, and was developed through a planning process that involved comprehensive public consultation and stakeholder engagement. Over a two-year period, more than 90 meetings were held with neighbourhood associations, agencies including First Nations leaders, elected officials, local businesses, airport stakeholders and community groups. The final plan details priorities for Billy Bishop Airport as well as outlining key recommendations to support the airport’s commitment to managed growth that balances airport operations with community interests.

“Environmental sustainability is a top priority for North American airports, and these award recipients are a testament to our members’ extraordinary commitment to protecting the environment and supporting their communities,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “By consistently challenging themselves to innovate and adopt sustainable practices, the 2020 ACI-NA Environmental Achievement Award recipients stand out as industry leaders. I’m proud of the work underway at airports and look forward to continued progress.”

“One of the key factors in realizing many of our environmental goals is our collaborative approach to community and stakeholder engagement, which, in the case of our updated Master Plan, involved going building to building in our community to hear first-hand about the challenges that exist today and how to mitigate these issues in the short- and long-term,” said Gene Cabral, Executive Vice President of PortsToronto and Billy Bishop Airport. “We are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts to maintain thorough and transparent community and stakeholder outreach, to which we can attribute many of our positive results in sustainability thus far as well as the future strategic initiatives detailed in our Master Plan.”

This is the third time that Billy Bishop Airport has won an Airports Council International (ACI-NA) Environmental Achievement Award. In 2019, the airport won Best Innovative Project for the successful completion of its three-year Airfield Rehabilitation Program, which modernized the airfield with sustainable infrastructure that reduced energy usage by 75 per cent. Further, in 2017, the airport won the top award for its Noise Management Program. In addition, Billy Bishop Airport has won a series of passenger-driven awards, including being named one of the top airports globally and in North America in both the Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Service Quality Awards and Skytrax World Airport Awards. Billy Bishop Airport has also been ranked as the fourth Best International Airport by Condé Nast Traveler and has ranked top ten on Private Fly’s list for Most Scenic Airport Approaches in the world for five consecutive years.

The 2018 Billy Bishop Airport Master Plan is available in English and French on the PortsToronto website, and on the project website: www.BillyBishopAirportMasterPlan2018.com. The project website also includes additional information such as a FAQ section that details questions and answers presented at the public meetings as well as presentations and resource material.

Eleventh-hour deal keeps Ornge flying out of Billy Bishop Airport

News from The Star – link to story

By Kevin Donovan, Chief Investigative Reporter | Sat., May 30, 2020

Ornge will continue to fly out of the Billy Bishop island airport after agreeing to a new rent deal.  ORNGE

A last-minute reprieve with a favourable rent deal will keep the air ambulance service Ornge flying out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport during the pandemic, officials say.

Ornge’s annual rent at the downtown airport has been reset by landlord Ports Toronto to roughly $200,000 a year. It was a whopping $5 million for the three-month period of March, April and May because Ornge had to cover all airport costs after Porter Airlines and Air Canada ceased flying from the island.

The provincial health ministry, which funds Ornge ($204 million annually), paid that bill to keep the airport open. Now, at least for the time being, the annual rent is back to normal.

“It is vital that Ornge maintains operations (at Billy Bishop) as it is a key patient transport hub providing quick access to trauma hospitals,” said Hayley Chazan, a spokesperson for provincial health minister Christine Elliott.

Ports Toronto and the ministry are still discussing terms going forward. Both parties are hoping normal airport operations will resume later this summer.

“We are exceedingly proud to have Ornge based at Billy Bishop Airport and are committed to do whatever we can, within our power, to keep Ornge at Billy Bishop Airport and return the airport itself to strength as soon as is possible and appropriate,” said Deborah Wilson, a Ports Toronto spokesperson.

Ornge operates two full-time helicopter crews out of Billy Bishop, and also flies fixed-wing aircraft from the island airport.

Several weeks ago, the Star revealed an unusual financial arrangement had arisen when Porter and Air Canada pulled out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in March due to the global pandemic. Only one tenant — the provincially funded Ornge — was left to keep the lights on. For three months, that amounted to close to $5 million.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Named One of World’s Best by Skytrax World Airport Awards

From PortsToronto

TORONTO, May 13, 2020 /CNW/ – Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has once again been ranked among the world’s best by the Skytrax World Airport Awards, a global benchmark of airport excellence voted on by nearly 14 million passengers worldwide. Ranking seventh in two categories – Best Airports in North America and World’s Best Airports (under five million passengers category) – this is the seventh consecutive year that Billy Bishop Airport has been recognized as one of the world’s top airports by the prestigious awards.

The 2020 Awards are based on millions of airport survey questionnaires completed in 2019 by more than 100 different nationalities of air travellers, covering 550 airports worldwide. In the independent survey, passengers continued to rank Billy Bishop Airport highly across 39 key performance indicators, including fast check-in times, ease of access to the terminal, and the courtesy and efficiency of airport staff.

“As passengers, airlines and airports collectively adapt to the new realities of air travel in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is incredibly gratifying to once again be named as one of the world’s best by the Skytrax World Airport Awards,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO of PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport. “To be recognized for the seventh consecutive year in the passenger-driven Skytrax awards reinforces that Billy Bishop Airport – one of the world’s only walkable, bike-able airports with an award-winning scenic approach – is striking a positive chord with passengers. With international accolades such as these driving us to stay the course and excel despite trying times, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will carry on its 80-year history of enabling business, facilitating tourism and providing a superior travel experience directly into the heart of Canada’s largest city.”

Billy Bishop Airport has won a series of passenger-driven awards over the last several years including being named one of the top airports globally and in North America by Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Service Quality Awards. Billy Bishop Airport has also been ranked as the fourth Best International Airport by Condé Nast Traveler and has ranked in the top ten on Private Fly’s list for Most Scenic Airport Approaches in the world for five consecutive years.

For more information on Skytrax World Airport Awards 2020 click here.

Skytrax Canadian Winners

From World Airport Awards – 11 May 2020

Vancouver International Airport YVR (Top 100 Ranking – 13 | 17 in 2019)
– Best Airport: 20-30 million passengers
Best Airport in North America

Toronto Pearson YYZ (Top 100 Ranking – 42 | 50 in 2019)
-Best Airport: 50-60 million passengers

Montréal-Trudeau International Airport YUL (Top 100 Ranking – 57 | 62 in 2019)
– Best Airport Staff in North America

Best Airports 2020: up to 5 million passengers
7. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
8. Halifax Stanfield International Airport


Fairmont Vancouver Airport
– Best Airport Hotel in North America

Support to Canada’s Air Transportation Sector

From: Department of Finance Canada ~ 30 March 2020

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada recognizes the unprecedented disruption to the air transportation sector resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, air passenger traffic has declined significantly as governments around the world impose border restrictions and advise their citizens to avoid unnecessary travel as a measure to slow the progression of the disease.

Support to Airports

Airports rely on fees paid by airlines and passengers to sustain their operations. As passenger traffic declines, airports are seeing their revenues fall, while at the same time they need to ensure safe operations.

To help airports reduce cost pressures and preserve cash flow as they deal with the effects of COVID-19 on their revenue, the government is waiving rents paid on ground leases for the 21 airport authorities that form part of the National Airport System and that pay rent to the government. The government will waive rent payments for March 2020 through December 2020.  The government is also providing comparable treatment for PortsToronto, which operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, by waiving payments made to the federal government on revenues generated by the airport. This will provide relief up to $331.4 million, reflecting payments in the same period of 2018.

By waiving ground lease payments, the government is helping these airport authorities to preserve cash flow during the disruption. This will allow them to redeploy cash to help maintain their operations and to support recovery strategies. This approach is consistent with actions taken to support the sector during previous major disruptions, such as the SARS outbreak in 2003.

The 21 National Airport System airport authorities covered by this measure are not-for-profit, non-share capital corporations that pay rents to operate airports in Canada under long-term leases with Transport Canada. Rents are based on revenues earned from operating the airports and related lands, which are owned by the government.

The 21 airport authorities that will receive relief are:

  • St. John’s International Airport Authority
  • Gander International Airport Authority Inc.
  • Halifax International Airport Authority
  • Charlottetown Airport Authority Inc.
  • Saint John Airport Inc.
  • Greater Moncton International Airport Authority Inc.
  • Fredericton International Airport Authority
  • Aéroport de Québec Inc.
  • Aéroports de Montréal
  • Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority
  • Greater Toronto Airports Authority
  • Greater London International Airports Authority
  • Thunder Bay International Airports Inc.
  • Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.
  • Regina Airport Authority
  • Saskatoon Airport Authority
  • Edmonton Regional Airports Authority
  • Calgary Airport Authority
  • Prince George Airport Authority Inc.
  • Vancouver International Airport Authority
  • Victoria Airport Authority.

PortsToronto operates the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and pays an annual charge to Transport Canada based on the revenues it earns under the terms of its letters patent.  PortsToronto revenues include those generated from operating Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Global News COMMENTARY: ‘Eerie’ absence of air travel amid coronavirus has repercussions on economy

Provided by Global News – link to full story and updates

BY MATTHEW FISHER, SPECIAL TO GLOBAL NEWS Posted March 25, 2020

An almost-empty Terminal 3 is shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Friday, March 13, 2020. .
 An almost-empty Terminal 3 is shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Friday, March 13, 2020. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

WATCH: VIDEOS connected with the story

Millions of Torontonians living and working under the flight path of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport may have noticed a big difference recently in the skies above them.

The number of flights into and out of Pearson has been cut by more than 50 per cent over the past couple of weeks, with further grim cuts coming soon because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Air traffic controllers at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport, usually handle about 1,100 air movements a day, according to data published by the airport. Following air traffic flows on FlightAware.com and FlightRadar.com, it appears that because of bans on travel between Canada and the U.S. and the lack of demand caused by the new coronavirus, there were only about 500 air movements on Wednesday.

The peak morning and afternoon rush hours now have so few flights that the radar picture looks like the usual situation 1 a.m. Additional deep service cuts announced by Canadian and U.S. carriers suggest that the number of flights will drop sharply again by the end of March.

“It’s really eerie,” said an air traffic controller at Pearson airport.

Official flight figures for February and March were still being collated, but “it is well known that the aviation industry has seen air traffic on the whole decrease significantly,” said Brian Boudreau, manager of media relations from Nav Canada, which manages airspace across the country.

U.S. air traffic control centres have had to temporarily suspend flights or have them overseen from backup facilities because several air traffic controllers have become infected with the new coronavirus.

While not specifically saying that no Canadian air traffic controllers had fallen ill with the virus, Boudreau said all of its operations are functioning without interruption.

“We do not anticipate disruptions given the measures we’ve taken in preparation for, and in response to COVID-19,” Boudreau said. “Nav Canada is at a high degree of readiness, with contingency plans in place to ensure the continued safety of Canadian skies.”

What has been happening at Toronto Pearson and all other Canadian airports — as can be seen on flight tracking websites — is a stark illustration of why the International Air Transportation Association announced Wednesday that its 290 member airlines would likely lose $252 billion this year.

As a result of the global pandemic, thousands of Canadian aviation workers are being laid off and airlines have been in talks with Ottawa about emergency financial assistance. Without them, airline executives have said they will fail.

This will cause unpredictable but serious consequences for the Canadian economy unless the aviation industry gets hundreds of millions of dollars in urgent relief that it has been seeking.

While many Canadian businesses are appealing for help, if Canada’s aviation industry falters it would have serious repercussions. That’s because the country’s size, and how thinly the population is spread out, make the economy especially dependent on aviation to fly people and critical cargo around.

The staggering knock-on effects of the disease on the aviation industry can be vividly seen by anyone driving past Kitchener/Waterloo airport. Sunwing Airlines Inc. of Etobicoke, Ont., has parked 13 Boeing 737s there that would normally be flying flat out at this time of year to get Canadian snowbirds to and from sunny destinations in the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico. All 470 Sunwing pilots were laid off on Monday.

“We had to close one of our runways to make space for the Sunwing aircraft,” said Kitchener Waterloo’s airport manager, Chris Wood. “It is really unfortunate that this is creating huge problems for our industry but we are here to help in any way we can.

“We had conversations with all the carriers last week. Looks like they are all finding homes for their aircraft, typically as close to their maintenance facilities as possible.”

Toronto’s island Billy Bishop airport has also closed one of its runways to park some of Porter Airlines’ fleet of 29 Q-400 aircraft, which stopped flying last Friday. Transat, which is based in Montreal, is winding down all its operations and won’t resume them for at least five weeks.

WestJet Airlines announced this week that it was suspending all international flights and would be cutting 6,900 jobs from its workforce of about 14,000 through voluntary and involuntary layoffs.

It has grounded 126 of its aircraft and parked them at 10 Canadian airports from Terrace, B.C., to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Halifax, accordingly. The bulk of the Calgary-based carrier’s jets are there or at Toronto’s Pearson, Westjet said in an email Thursday, though some of the aircraft might still be repositioned.

A substantial number of its overwhelmingly Boeing fleet is also in Vancouver, Kelowna or Edmonton. Ten more of them are parked at an airfield in Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson, where there is less corrosion because of the desert air.

Speaking from Geneva on Wednesday, the head of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, said he expects that because of the new coronavirus, airlines will require $200 billion in emergency government aid to remain solvent. The British government said this week that it would not bail out airlines. However, “as a last resort,” it might speak with some carriers on an individual basis.

The North American aviation industry has generated about two-thirds of the industry’s global profits in recent years. But since the novel coronavirus seized global attention when it was first detected in December, shares in the four leading U.S. carriers have lost between 40 per cent and 66 per cent of their value. The airlines have made an urgent appeal for $50 billion in emergency funding to avoid bankruptcy.

Air Canada is suspending almost all international flights and laying off 60 per cent of its cabin crew.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are the hubs for international aviation giants Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airlines, announced that effective Wednesday night, all flights to and from those Gulf sheikdoms would be suspended for at least two weeks.

Singapore Airlines, which often wins awards for having the best customer service, cut 96 per cent of its flights on Wednesday and grounded all but 11 of its 196 aircraft. KLM announced this week that it was slashing 90 per cent of its flights.

Hong Kong Express, which is owned by Cathay Pacific, went even further. It cancelled all flights until the end of April.

These actions followed steep flight cuts by Cathay Pacific and European carriers such as Lufthansa and British Airways. Qantas, the Australian carrier, has cut all international flights, laid off 20,000 of its 30,000 workers and arranged Wednesday for $1 billion in additional credit by using seven of its widebody jets as collateral.

Even worse than this tsunami of flight suspensions and appeals for aid, the aviation industry will still face immense challenges, whether or not a treatment or a vaccine for the new coronavirus is found. It is widely expected that few corporations will have much money to spend to fly large numbers of their executives around the world in the expensive business class seats that provide major carriers with much of their profit.

Nor, whenever the crisis ends, will large numbers of tourists have money to spend on exotic holidays. This, in turn, will lead to far fewer hotel and resort bookings for major corporations and small businesses that have had to close down most of their operations.

Particularly hard hit will be cruise ships. They will suffer from a double whammy of fewer passengers with money to spend and, perhaps fatally, because several cruise ships ended up becoming huge incubators for the virus, helping to spread the disease around the world.

Matthew Fisher is an international affairs columnist and foreign correspondent who has worked abroad for 35 years. You can follow him on Twitter at @mfisheroverseas

Discover Myrtle Beach this spring with Porter Airlines

Provided by Porter Airlines/CNW

Porter Airlines introduces new entry-level fare category, expanding customer options (CNW Group/Porter Airlines Inc.)

TORONTO, Jan. 15, 2020 /CNW/ – Just in time for spring break, Porter Airlines is resuming seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, beginning March 4. Flights operate twice weekly until May 17, 2020, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Porter offers the only non-stop flights from Canada.

In just 2.5 hours, travellers are transported to Myrtle Beach, where the weather is as warm as its southern hospitality. Boasting miles of beautiful coastline, stunning sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean, and an abundance of attractions, Myrtle Beach is the perfect destination for the entire family.

Myrtle Beach is also an elite golf destination offering more than 100 courses in the area to challenge all skill levels. Local courses are known for their playability and being impeccably maintained.

Porter Escapes offers inclusive packages for flights, accommodations and activities.

Connecting flights are available via Toronto from numerous Porter destinations. Complete schedule details are available at www.flyporter.com