by Sumit Singh | June 18, 2021
It has been a year and three months since a ban on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada was first imposed. Now, airlines and passengers looking to head over the border between the two countries will have to wait until at least July 21st.
There are high hopes for a change as airline advocacy groups on both sides of the border have been putting pressure on authorities to open things up. There were also hints of progress with Canadian Health Minister Patty Hadju talking of a phased reopening plan last week. Additionally, US congressman and co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus Brian Higgins shared that US President Joe Biden is keen for the border to open up.
Despite these glimmers of hope, those wanting to fly between the US and Canada for non-essential reasons will have to wait for at least over a month. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair confirmed the news on Twitter.
Our number one priority as we fight #COVID19 is keeping Canadians safe. In coordination with the U.S., we are extending restrictions on non-essential international travel and with the United States until July 21st, 2021.
— Bill Blair (@BillBlair) June 18, 2021
A change of approach
Both US and Canadian carriers refocused their attention on domestic services following the restrictions set by the global health crisis. However, international activity now is seeing gradual improvement in the US following the easing of requirements to certain destinations. However, continued stringent restrictions in Canada are causing airlines in the country to continue their concentration on the domestic market through the summer.
WestJet announced its domestic recovery in spring with 11 routes. Moreover, Swoop has been deploying its Boeing 737 aircraft to national vacation spots. Flair Airlines is also concentrating its new 737 MAX aircraft between its Canadian bases. After the border reopens, the ultra-low-cost carrier’s aircraft will also be seen in the US, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
This spring, Canadian aviation activity has been down by up to approximately 90% in capacity levels. In contrast, US domestic leisure travel is already seeing strong returns, with load factors at around 90%. So, overall, Canada’s aviation industry is feeling the impact of the pandemic much more than its neighbors in recent months.
Nonetheless, Blair shared that there are plans in the works for some extra travel to restart this summer. The MP for Scarborough Southwest shared the following on Twitter.
“As we have said, the government is planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, Permanent Residents, and others who are currently permitted to enter Canada and will provide further details on Monday, June 21.”
Airline advocacy groups supporting the relaxation of restrictions are looking to end quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers, end hotel quarantine policies for all travelers, and reduce quarantine for partially and vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Furthermore, they want a clear pathway to the reopening of consistent travel. These groups will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on further announcements in the coming weeks.