3 flights to Vancouver International Airport possibly exposed to COVID-19

News from CTV News – link to story

Regan Hasegawa, Multi-skilled Journalist, CTV News Vancouver | July 2, 2020

YVR

Planes are seen on the tarmac at YVR in this photo from April 2019. (Gary Barndt / CTV News Vancouver)

VANCOUVER — Health officials are warning passengers on three flights that recently landed at Vancouver International Airport YVR to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is not sharing which seats on the planes were affected. As a result, everyone who was on the flights is asked to self-isolate for two weeks from the day they landed in Vancouver.

These are the affected flights:

  •  Air Canada flight 217 from Saskatoon on June 16.
  •  Air Canada flight 557 from Los Angeles on June 18.
  •  Flair Airlines flight 8102 from Toronto on June 21.

Travellers on the flights won’t be contacted directly, as health officials stopped that practice back in March.

All airline passengers are encouraged to check the BCCDC website regularly for two weeks after they arrive back in B.C. to ensure their flight has not been exposed to the virus.  

Air Canada Discontinues Service on 30 Domestic Regional Routes and Closes Eight Stations in Canada

From Air Canada

Regional flying rationalized due to COVID-19 and government travel restrictions, part of airline’s Cost Reduction Program to reduce cash burn

MONTREAL, June 30, 2020  /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada said today that it is indefinitely suspending service on 30 domestic regional routes and closing eight stations at regional airports in Canada. 

These structural changes to Air Canada’s domestic regional network are being made as a result of continuing weak demand for both business and leisure travel due to COVID-19 and provincial and federal government-imposed travel restrictions and border closures, which are diminishing prospects for a near-to-mid-term recovery.

As the company has previously reported, Air Canada expects the industry’s recovery will take a minimum of three years. As a consequence, other changes to its network and schedule, as well as further service suspensions, will be considered over the coming weeks as the airline takes steps to decisively reduce its overall cost structure and cash burn rate.

A full list of route suspensions and station closures is below.

As a result of COVID-19, Air Canada reported a net loss of $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2020, including a net cash-burn in March of $688 million. The carrier has undertaken a range of structural changes including significant cost savings and liquidity measures, of which today’s announced service suspensions form part. Other measures include:

  • A workforce reduction of approximately 20,000 employees, representing more than 50 per cent of its staff, achieved through layoffs, severances, early retirements and special leaves;
  • A company-wide Cost Reduction and Capital Deferral Program, that has to date identified around $1.1 billion in savings;
  • A reduction of its system-wide capacity by approximately 85 per cent in the second quarter compared to last year’s second quarter and an expected third quarter capacity reduction of at least 75% from the third quarter of 2019;
  • The permanent removal of 79 aircraft from its mainline and Rouge fleets;
  • And raising approximatively $5.5 billion in liquidity since March 13, 2020, through a series of debt, aircraft and equity financings.

Further initiatives are being considered.

Route Suspensions

The following routes will be suspended indefinitely as per applicable regulatory notice requirements. Affected customers will be contacted by Air Canada and offered options, including alternative routings where available.

Maritimes/Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Deer Lake-Goose Bay;
  • Deer Lake-St. John’s;
  • Fredericton-Halifax;
  • Fredericton-Ottawa;
  • Moncton-Halifax;
  • Saint John-Halifax;
  • Charlottetown-Halifax;
  • Moncton-Ottawa;
  • Gander-Goose Bay;
  • Gander-St. John’s;
  • Bathurst-Montreal;
  • Wabush-Goose Bay;
  • Wabush-Sept-Iles;
  • Goose Bay-St. John’s.

Quebec/Ontario:

  • Baie Comeau-Montreal;
  • Baie Comeau-Mont Joli;
  • Gaspé-Iles de la Madeleine;
  • Gaspé-Quebec City;
  • Sept-Iles-Quebec City;
  • Val d’Or-Montreal;
  • Mont Joli-Montreal;
  • Rouyn-Noranda-Val d’Or;
  • Kingston-Toronto;
  • London-Ottawa;
  • North Bay-Toronto
  • Windsor-Montreal

Western Canada: 

  • Regina-Winnipeg;
  • Regina-Saskatoon;
  • Regina-Ottawa;
  • Saskatoon-Ottawa.

Station Closures

The following are the Regional Airports where Air Canada is closing its stations:

  • Bathurst (New Brunswick)
  • Wabush (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Gaspé (Quebec)
  • Baie Comeau (Quebec)
  • Mont Joli (Quebec)
  • Val d’Or (Quebec)
  • Kingston (Ontario)
  • North Bay (Ontario)

Saskatoon airport lays off workers due to ‘devastating’ COVID-19 impact

News from Global News – link to story and video

BY RYAN KESSLER GLOBAL NEWS | Posted June 16, 2020

Skyxe Saskatoon Airport is making layoffs and spending cuts in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a steep drop in air travel.

In an email to Global News, the organization’s chief financial officer cited a “devastating financial impact on the organization.”

“As the result of COVID-19, Skyxe Saskatoon Airport has experienced an unprecedented decline in passenger traffic averaging more than 95 per cent from 2019 levels,” said Nick Purich, who is also the airport’s vice-president, corporate administration.

A total of 1.49-million passengers went through the airport in 2019. Officials don’t expect traffic volumes to return to 2019 levels within the next three years.

As a result, the airport has reduced its organization size by about 15 per cent through a combination of layoffs and voluntary retirements.

“This decision was necessary to preserve the long-term viability of Skyxe and its ability to serve the travelling public,” Purich said.

Prior to any retirements or layoffs, the airport employed 40 people. Purich declined to comment on specific affected departments but said “most areas” of the organization were impacted.

Four employees received layoff notices Monday, according to the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE), which represents Saskatoon airport workers.

“There’s one position from the airfield, there’s somebody from building maintenance, somebody from finance and somebody from the pass office,” said Mike Tennant, regional vice-president of UCTE.

Skyxe’s CFO said the layoffs are permanent and a hiring freeze is now in effect with no projected end date, which concerns Tennant.

“That’s a person, an individual, a human being losing their livelihood,” Tennant said.

“But what (the airport is) telling us is that this is what they need to do to survive, so we can just try to work with them, try to minimize the impact on the members.”

The airport has also “aggressively” reduced its operating expenses, including contracted services. Purich said contracted work includes parking and ground transportation support, some security and information desk personnel and maintenance workers.

It’s not clear how many contract workers may have lost their jobs, but Purich said contract services have reduced by 75 per cent due to COVID-19.

Capital spending is also being scaled back by about 80 per cent from what was initially planned for 2020. Planned work included apron and taxiways, along with additional aircraft overnight parking.

“We reduced our capital budget to only projects that were in progress when the pandemic hit and were substantially underway or absolutely critical for safety and security,” Purich explained.

The airport completed two significant projects in 2019: the replacement of its baggage system and the redesign and redevelopment of its check-in hall.

Watch: What to expect when visiting the Saskatoon airport

WestJet releases July schedule to get Canadians exploring again

From WestJet, an Alberta Partnership

Airline continues to focus on significant safety and hygiene enhancements to ensure a safe travel journey

CALGARY, AB, June 15, 2020 /CNW/ – WestJet today released its updated July schedule, developed to allow Canadians the pleasure of summer travel while economically supporting communities across the country in safely reopening travel and domestic tourism. In addition, the airline has added flights to select U.S. markets.

To ensure guests can book with confidence, the airline maintains its stringent Safety Above All hygiene program and continues to provide flexibility in booking, change and cancellation policies.

“Today’s schedule reflects our commitment to orderly and safe travel while providing steps to allow Canadians to get out, explore, and take part in critical economic activities like staying in hotels, eating out, visiting tourist attractions or simply just travelling to see friends and family,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “Governments and Canadians from coast-to-coast are working together to lessen the impact of this pandemic and we are grateful that these efforts have put us in a position to add more options for travel this July.”

From July 5 through August 4, 2020, WestJet will offer operations to 45 destinations including 39 in Canada, five in the U.S. and one in Mexico an increase of approximately 102 per cent more flights from June, but down 76 per cent from July 2019.

Continued von zur Muehlen, “As we emerge from the pandemic, health vigilance must be balanced with the gradual reopening of our economy. WestJet has done our part and spent millions of dollars to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests and our people. We’re ready to get Canadians flying.”

On March 22, WestJet suspended its international and transborder operations. The airline’s schedule now contains flights to key transborder and international destinations including Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta (ATL) and Las Vegas (LAS).

“Jurisdictions around the world are opening, allowing citizens to begin flying once again which is kickstarting their economies for recovery. We’ve heard from the communities we serve and look forward to having Canadians safely participate and stimulate domestic tourism this summer,” stated von zur Muehlen.

At this time, the airline is planning on operating the following domestic routes and frequencies from July 5 – August 4.

Continue reading

2 domestic flights to Saskatoon flagged for COVID-19

News from CBC News – link to story

Both flights were travelling to Saskatoon, happened in late May

CBC News · Posted: Jun 08, 2020

A federal government website says two flights travelling to Saskatoon in late May contained people infected with the coronavirus. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

The federal government says two flights headed to Saskatoon carried passengers later diagnosed with COVID-19.

A federal website says Air Canada Flight 1129 from Toronto to Saskatoon on May 29 transported a person found to have the novel coronavirus.

One day later, WestJet Flight 3370 from Calgary to Saskatoon carried a passenger later found to have been infectious.

The website said rows four to 10 of the WestJet flight were affected. Row information on the Air Canada flight was not provided.

Anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19 is asked to use the federal government’s self-assessment tool.

The provincial government asks people who might be infected to phone the Saskatchewan Healthline at 811.

WestJet Update: 10 May • Schedule to 4 July 2020

From Westjet – 10 May 2020

WESTJET UPDATES SCHEDULE FROM JUNE 5 THROUGH JULY 4, 2020 

WestJet has updated its schedule from June 5 through to July 4, 2020 to address significantly reduced guest demand for air travel while continuing to keep critical economic lifelines open for essential travel and cargo. At this time, WestJet is also extending its temporary transborder and international route suspensions through June 25, 2020. Guests with travel booked after June 5 through July 4, will be proactively notified of their options. Full schedule details are available on westjet.com

It is through the hard work and dedication of teams across WestJet that we continue to provide safe, on-time air travel throughout Canada. We thank all WestJetters and our airport partners for their support during this time. For information on WestJet’s COVID-19 response including health, safety and cleaning protocols, visit the WestJet COVID-19 site here

Domestic route suspensions from June 5 through July 4, 2020 

Market Previous frequency 
Vancouver – Nanaimo 2x daily 
Vancouver – Comox 1x daily 
Vancouver – Regina 4x weekly 
Vancouver – Saskatoon 1x daily 
Vancouver – Winnipeg 3x daily 
Vancouver – Fort St. John 1x daily 
Vancouver – Cranbrook 1x daily 
Vancouver – Ottawa 2x daily 
Vancouver – Montreal 6 to 13x weekly 
Vancouver – Halifax 6x weekly 
Kelowna – Victoria 12x weekly 
Calgary – Prince George 1x daily 
Calgary – Ottawa 2x daily 
Calgary – Montreal 2x daily 
Calgary – London, ON 1 to 2x daily 
Calgary – Halifax 3x daily 
Calgary – St. John’s 1x daily 
Edmonton – Comox 8x weekly 
Edmonton – Victoria 20x weekly 
Edmonton – Kelowna 7x daily 
Edmonton – Grande Prairie 13x weekly 
Edmonton – Yellowknife 1x daily 
Edmonton – Saskatoon 3x daily 
Edmonton – Regina 3x daily 
Edmonton – Winnipeg 20x weekly 
Edmonton – Ottawa 4x weekly 
Edmonton – Montreal 3x weekly 
Edmonton – Halifax 10x weekly 
Edmonton – St. John’s 4x weekly 
Winnipeg – Ottawa 1x daily 
Winnipeg – Regina 1x daily 
Winnipeg – Halifax 1x daily 
Toronto – Victoria 4x weekly 
Toronto – Regina 10x weekly 
Toronto – Saskatoon 12x weekly 
Halifax – Montreal 2x daily 

The following domestic markets will have a new seasonal start date: 

Market New start date 
Calgary – Quebec City 6-Jul-20 
Calgary – Charlottetown 5-Jul-20 
Winnipeg – Montreal 5-Jul-20 
Toronto – Kelowna 5-Jul-20 
Toronto – Sydney, NS 5-Jul-20 

WESTJET CARGO DELIVERS FLOWERS FOR MOTHER’S DAY

While we may be physically distancing, we know moms will still be feeling the love today. Over the last three weeks, WestJet Cargo has helped deliver 15 tonnes of flowers across Canada — just in time for Mother’s Day.

WestJet Update: 29 April – Domestic Schedule Changes to June 4

From WestJet

WESTJET MAKES FREQUENCY UPDATES TO ITS DOMESTIC FLIGHT SCHEDULE FROM MAY 5 THROUGH JUNE 4  

WestJet is making additional changes to its domestic flight schedule, from May 5 through June 4, 2020. These changes are required to address significantly reduced guest demand during the COVID-19 crisis.   

The following are frequency reductions from May 5-June 4, 2020:  

Market  Previous frequency  Updated frequency 
Calgary-Lethbridge 6x weekly 3x weekly 
Calgary-Medicine Hat 6x weekly 3x weekly 
Calgary-Cranbrook 6x weekly 3x weekly 
Winnipeg-Saskatoon 3x weekly 2x weekly 
Winnipeg-Thunder Bay 3x weekly 2x weekly 

The following city pairs have been temporarily removed from May 5-June 4, 2020:  

Market Previous frequency 
Halifax-Montreal 1x weekly 

These changes are in addition to the network updates announced on Monday, April 22, when the airline announced removing approximately 4,000 weekly flights or 600 daily flights. 

While some city pairings have been temporarily removed, we continue to serve the 38 Canadian airports to which we currently operate, ensuring that those with essential travel requirements can get where they need to be and that cargo goods like blood, medical products and food supplies can continue to flow.   

The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions. Bookings and full schedule details are available at westjet.com. All transborder and international routes remain suspended at this time through June 4, 2020.  

REPATRIATION FLIGHTS 

In collaboration with Government of Canada, WestJet has added flights to repatriate Canadians from Costa Rica to Toronto today and on May 2, along with a flight from Belize to Toronto on May 6. Seats are available for booking on westjet.com.  

Next scheduled repatriation flights: 

  • Today, April 29, 2020 from San José, Costa Rica (SJO) to Toronto 
  • May 2, 2020 from San José, Costa Rica (SJO) to Toronto 
  • May 6, 2020 from Belize (BZE) to Toronto  

WestJet Update: 13 April ~ Domestic Flight Schedule Changes

From WestJet

DOMESTIC FLIGHT SCHEDULE CHANGES

WestJet is making changes to its domestic flight schedule to address significantly reduced guest demand during the COVID-19 crisis.

While demand remains low and some city pairings have been temporarily removed, we are maintaining critical lifelines to all 38 Canadian airports that we currently operate to, ensuring that those with essential travel requirements can get where they need to be and that cargo goods like blood, medical products and food supplies can continue to flow. The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions.

For guests with travel after April 16 through May 4, we are proactively notifying them of their travel options.

The following city pairs have been temporarily removed:

Vancouver – Fort St. John                 1x daily

Edmonton – Kelowna                        1x daily

Edmonton – Saskatoon                     3x weekly

Edmonton – Regina                           4x weekly

Edmonton – Winnipeg                      1x daily

Bookings and full schedule details are available at westjet.com.

REPATRIATION FLIGHT SCHEDULE

  • Tuesday, April 14 from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto (YYZ), Canada on WestJet’s 737-800.
  • Friday, April 17 from Guatemala City (GUA), Guatemala to Toronto (YYZ), Canada on WestJet’s 737-800.

FLEXIBLE/CHANGE CANCEL POLICY NOW INCLUDES JUNE

  • We continue to offer our guests flexible change/cancel policies for travel in April, May and June with refund to travel bank for use within 24-months.
  • More details on our policies are available here.

AFFECTED FLIGHTS – visit the blog (updated)

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.