Misinterpretation of air traffic control communication identified as a factor in August 2019 runway incursion at Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport

From: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

News release

Richmond Hill, Ontario, 15 January 2021 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A19O0117) into the August 2019 runway incursion between two aircraft at the Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario. There were no injuries.

On 9 August 2019 at 1240 local time, an Air Canada Boeing 777-300 landed on Runway 33L. Three minutes later, at 1243 local time, an Air Georgian Bombardier CRJ 200 was instructed to line up on parallel Runway 33R. In accordance with air traffic control (ATC) instructions, the Boeing 777 was crossing Runway 33R. Simultaneously, the flight crew of the CRJ 200 began its take-off roll on the same runway without a take-off clearance from ATC. When the CRJ 200 flight crew saw the Boeing 777 over the crest of the runway, they rejected the takeoff and exited via a taxiway.

The investigation found that while completing the pre-departure checks, the flight crew of the CRJ 200 was informed of a change in departure instructions. The first officer received and read back the line-up instruction with the departure amendment, but misinterpreted that ATC communication as a clearance for takeoff.

It was determined that the number of pre-departure tasks the flight crew was required to complete within a short amount of time increased their workload, and that the workload was further increased by the additional tasks brought by the change in instructions. Thus, it was found that the increased workload, the expectation to receive a take-off clearance without delay, and the misinterpretation of the line-up instructions led the CRJ 200 flight crew to initiate take-off roll without a take-off clearance. Also, because of the grade profile of Runway 33R, the fuselage of the Boeing 777 would not have been visible to the CRJ 200 flight crew at the start of the take-off roll, therefore they had no visual indication that it was unsafe to begin the takeoff.

Both flight crew members worked an early morning shift after working an evening shift, known as a backward-rotating shift schedule. Although the investigation did not determine that fatigue affected the performance of the flight crew in this occurrence, backward-rotating shift schedules cause circadian rhythm desynchronization, which increases the risk of fatigue in crew members who do not receive sufficient time off to adapt their sleep-wake pattern when working these schedules. Furthermore, if airlines do not inform crew members of the risk of fatigue due to the direction of shift schedule rotation, there is an increased risk that crew members will operate an aircraft while fatigued.

Following the occurrence, NAV CANADA issued a directive reminding air traffic controllers to cancel the take-off clearance or issue an instruction to abort takeoff when runway incursion monitoring and conflict alert system stage 2 alerts are activated by a departing aircraft.

Air Georgian Limited conducted an internal safety investigation as per the company’s safety management system. It amended its standard operating procedures to mandate an ATC query if one of the two crew members was unaware of the content of an ATC clearance or instruction.

See the investigation page for more information.

Air Canada Outlines Route Cuts: Many Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe Flights Suspended

From TravelPulse Canada – link to source story


Spotlight on Paris

The pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions are forcing Air Canada to suspend some of their most popular flights, at least temporarily.

In a memo sent to TravelPulse Canada, Canada’s largest airline outlined the details of the 25% capacity reduction they mentioned in a Wednesday statement. The list contains 44 temporarily suspended flights, including 12 domestic, 10 trans-border (USA) and a full 22 international routes.

Popular flights that are being temporarily discontinued include Toronto-Quebec City, Montreal-Orlando, Toronto-Tampa, Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta, Montreal-Barbados, Calgary-Maui, Toronto-Paris and Toronto-Saint Lucia.

It’s a blow to Air Canada workers and to Canadians, as well as tourism workers in the Caribbean and around the world. It’s also a difficult pill to swallow for beleaguered travel agents, who now have a lot fewer destinations they can sell. But airline officials say they’ve been left with no choice.

Effective Jan 23, this is a list of the stations closed and routes suspended until further notice:

Additional airport stations closed in Canada:

  • Fredericton NB
  • Gander NL
  • Goose Bay NL
  • Yellowknife NWT
  • Kamloops BC
  • Prince Rupert BC

Additional domestic routes suspended

  • Fredericton–Montreal
  • Gander–Halifax
  • Goose Bay–Halifax
  • Kamloops-Vancouver
  • Ottawa-Calgary
  • Ottawa-Vancouver
  • Prince Rupert-Vancouver
  • Quebec City-Toronto
  • St. John’s-Toronto
  • Victoria-Calgary
  • Winnipeg-Calgary
  • Yellowknife-Edmonton

Transborder routes suspended

  • Calgary to: Maui
  • Montreal to: Denver, Houston, Orlando
  • Toronto to: Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Washington (Dulles)
  • Vancouver to: Honolulu (until April), Maui (until mid-February)

International flights suspended

  • Montreal to: Barbados, Casablanca, Cozumel, Samana, San Jose (Costa Rica), Santa Clara, Turks & Caicos, Nassau, Sao Paulo, Puerto Vallarta
  • Toronto to: Cozumel, Curacao, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Paris, Saint Lucia, Santa Clara, St. Vincent, Zurich
  • Vancouver to: Los Cabos, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta

Air Canada on Wednesday said it will have to reduce capacity by 25% and lay off 1,700 workers due to a lack of demand.

Since the implementation by the Federal and Provincial Governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn. We regret the impact these difficult decisions will have on our employees who have worked very hard during the pandemic looking after our customers, as well as on the affected communities,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

WestJet last week reduced capacity by 30% per cent and announced layoffs and furloughs for 1,000 workers.

Air Canada’s new Montreal-Bogota service starts Jan. 16

From TravelWeek – link to source story

Air Canada’s new Montreal-Bogota service starts Jan. 16

Friday, January 15, 2021 | Posted by Travelweek Group

MONTREAL — Starting Jan. 16 Air Canada will operate a new weekly flight from Montreal to Bogota.

The new B787 route is in addition to Air Canada’s existing year-round flights from Toronto to Bogota.

ProColombia, the government entity in charge of promoting tourism to the country, says Colombia is set to continue supporting this market’s growth throughout the recovery process. Canada has been Identified as a key market for the Colombian capital.

ProColombia notes that both Air Canada and El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá have introduced extensive and comprehensive measures to ensure that visitors feel safe and confident when travelling.

Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport is just one of three airports worldwide to be awarded the highest rating in biosafety issues, receiving five stars from the British firm Skytrax’s audit, which evaluated the measures taken by airports to combat the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile Air Canada’s CleanCare+ program has been in place since May 2020.

“We celebrate the launching of this new route with the Canadian market and we consider it an important step towards seeing our tourism industry back on track,” says Flavia Santoro, President of ProColombia.

She adds: “This direct flight with Montreal also opens a door for new business opportunities that will allow us to keep positioning Colombia as a strategic commercial ally for Canada. It is also worth mentioning that Colombia is the first Latin American country in creating a Tourism Biosafety Certification with the support of both the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council. The message for all international travellers is that Colombia is a safe, biodiverse, charismatic and a culturally rich destination ready to welcome you.”

1,500 flights and rising as Canadians seek sunny escapes despite surging COVID-19 crisis

From CBC News – link to source story

Government advice to avoid ‘non-essential travel’ lacks clear definition

Dave Seglins, Joseph Loiero, Roberto Rocha · CBC News · Jan 15, 2021

Tourists walk on the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of Canadians are thumbing their noses at government advice to stay home and hopping international flights to sunny destinations even as the COVID-19 crisis worsens in many parts of the country, CBC News has found.

Canadian air carriers operated more than 1,500 flights between Canada and 18 popular vacation destinations since Oct. 1, even as caseloads rise and the health crisis deepens.

It has prompted many questions from Canadians about why there is no outright travel ban, especially given recent high-profile resignations and firings involving politicians, doctors and civic leaders who’ve taken vacations outside the country.

“With the new state of emergency and recent lockdown measures, why hasn’t the government considered restrictions for airline travel either international or even Canadian travel between provinces?” asked Brenda LacLaurin of Ottawa, who contacted CBC News.

“How are people still travelling for leisure?” asked another audience member. “Every official says it saves lives to stay home, yet people can get on a plane and fly to Florida? WHY is the airport not closed to outgoing travel?”

While international travel is permitted, the federal government has been advising Canadians for nearly a year to avoid all “non-essential travel” outside the country without offering a clear definition or tools for authorities to prevent it. 

Mexico, Jamaica top the list

CBC News tracked Canadian non-stop flights to and from popular resort destinations using data from Flightradar24.com between Oct. 1, 2020, and Jan. 16, 2021.

Of the 1,516 flights analyzed, some of the most popular routes departing from Canada included 214 flights between Toronto and Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 183 flights between Montreal and Cancun, Mexico.

CBC excluded all known cancelled flights, as schedules continue to change.

WestJet announced last week it is scaling back operations, suspending several routes to sunny destinations, including flights from Edmonton and Vancouver to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, “as the airline continues to face volatile demand and instability.”

Air Canada says its overall network capacity — the number of seats it makes available for sale — is down 80 per cent compared with 2019. In an emailed statement, an airline spokesperson took exception to questions about the volume of flights resuming to vacation destinations.

“The real issue here is we need to restart travel safely in Canada as it is very important to the economy, with hundreds of thousands of jobs dependent on it both directly and indirectly,” said Air Canada’s Peter Fitzpatrick.

Flight tracking by CBC News shows that despite a dramatic drop last spring, air traffic from eight Canadian airports to Mexico and the Caribbean is on the rebound.

Raywat Deonandan, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa, says the data suggests a small portion of the Canadian public is choosing to disregard public health advice, putting themselves and the countries they visit at risk.

“I try not to judge people. Everyone’s got their reasons,” he said. “Maybe they need, you know, some kind of stress relief.”

WATCH | Deonandan on the need to cut out travel: 

Travel rates ‘worrying,’ epidemiologist says

However, he said, for that many people to be knowingly acting against public health advice, there is likely some selfishness at play. 

“This sense that my need for recreation is greater than the need of the population to remain safe.”

Deonandan says banning travel could prompt backlash and civil disobedience, and would be a “hard sell” politically and economically, especially given an end to the pandemic is in sight with the introduction of vaccines.

But, he says, to prioritize public health, the government should have been much clearer and directed Canadians from the beginning on what does — and does not — constitute essential travel.

“I think a good rule of thumb is if the primary purpose of your travel is recreation, it should not be permitted,” he said, noting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control lists almost every Caribbean vacation destination as Level 4, or very high risk for COVID-19.

‘No formal restriction’

Health Canada provided CBC News with several links to its advice, none of which defines essential travel. 

The federal government asks Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel outside Canada,” but on its website says, “it is up to the individual to decide” what that includes.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged this week the lack of clarity on the matter is causing confusion as he laid out details of the province’s new stay-at-home rules.

“I know that essential means different things to different people. We have 15 million people in Ontario, each with their own individual circumstances,” Ford told a news conference on Tuesday.

CBC News also asked each province and territory how they define essential travel.

Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island did not respond.

ManitobaB.C.New Brunswick and Nunavut all offered some descriptions of essential and non-essential travel, with Northwest Territories providing the clearest examples of what to avoid.

“Vacation purposes — like going to a beach or ski resort, shopping and visiting family members where there is no extenuating circumstances at-hand,” the government’s statement says.

Roving musicians Los Compas serenade a couple on the shore of Mamitas Beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Mexico saw a holiday bump in tourism despite the ongoing pandemic. (Emilio Espejel/The Associated Press)

Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and Alberta offered no definitions, with Alberta noting provinces are powerless to keep people home.

“There is no formal restriction prohibiting such travel or punitive measures in place at this time,” wrote a provincial spokesperson.

‘A steep gamble’

The Public Health Agency of Canada has flagged potential COVID-19 exposures on almost 500 international flights since Dec. 1, 2020. Of those, 87 flights were to or from the southern vacation destinations used in the CBC’s analysis.

While known cases in Canada linked to international travel represent only one per cent of the country’s overall case count, experts caution that still represents 4,239 exposures and contacts tied to a traveller.

Canada recently beefed up screening at airports and last week imposed a new requirement for all inbound travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Experts say those tests are not 100 per cent reliable and that people should not assume they can control their exposures abroad.

“You cannot control who is in the airplane with you. You can’t control the nature and the environment of the airport when you arrive. You can’t control the hygienic quality of the taxi that you take from the airport to your destination,” said Deonandan, who implored Canadians to think of the common good before travelling abroad.

“It is a steep, steep gamble that I don’t think is worth taking,” he said.

About the data

CBC News collected one year’s worth of data from Flightradar24.com for 169 routes between Canadian international airports and 18 destinations in popular vacation spots, mostly in Mexico and the Caribbean. Only direct, non-cancelled flights were examined. In all, 5,628 flights were analyzed, 3,042 inbound and 2,586 outbound. The data was collected on Jan. 9 and includes scheduled flights up to Jan. 16.

Although Flightradar24 is recognized as an authoritative source, there could be errors or omissions in the data, which isn’t guaranteed to be 100 per cent accurate.

With files from Alex Shprintsen, Madeline McNair, Albert Leung

‘Devastating’ Air Canada flight cuts the latest blow to N.L. tourism industry

From CBC News – link to source story

Direct routes between St. John’s and Toronto accounted for about half of pre-pandemic passenger traffic YYT

CBC News · Posted: Jan 13, 2021

Brenda O’Reilly, chair of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s board of directors, says the flight cancellations are devastating. (CBC)

After a year of staycationing and a ban on travellers from outside Atlantic Canada, the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism industry is still struggling to find its footing as COVID-19 rages around the world.

The latest route cuts by Air Canada, which is dropping its remaining flights in and out of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Gander and suspending its Toronto-to-St. John’s route as of Jan. 23, are going to make recovery that much harder, says the chair of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.

“It’s devastating,” said Brenda O’Reilly on Wednesday.

“The tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, and around the world, certainly, has been hit so dramatically. We’re first hit, hardest hit … and this certainly doesn’t help.”

O’Reilly said tourism business owners appreciate people in the province who took their holidays at home during the summer, but that revenue was half of what would have been brought in by other Canadian travellers, and a third of what international travellers bring in.

Ultimately it may mean higher ticket prices and less choice. I guess that’s the bottom line.- Peter Avery

And while the province’s borders remain closed to non-residents, O’Reilly said losing the flights is an obstacle on the road back to economic recovery.

“This is so devastating for the Big Land — Labrador having no access with Air Canada is dramatic. Losing another flight out of St. John’s and Gander is dramatic. So it’s not looking great,” she said.

“Our province looks like we’re closed right now, and of course we are because of the pandemic, but we just hope that these flight [cuts] are short term and not long term.”

Health Minister John Haggie has said despite ongoing vaccinations, health restrictions will remain in effect for a while yet — likely through to 2022.

It’s a difficult pill to swallow for tourism operators who know that staycations are “just not gonna be enough” for all of them to survive past this year, O’Reilly said.

She added that she knows the airline industry is also having a difficult time, and hopes there will be some sort of assistance from the federal government, but it’s a cyclical problem and tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador can’t recover without flights.

Airlines have long been saying they cannot maintain operations without financial assistance from Ottawa.

“Access is absolutely the most important, most polarizing, issue right now, so to hear Air Canada cancelling flights — it’s just very sad,” she said.

“Tourism around the world, and particularly for us, it will revive the airlines. .. we do need more flights, not less flights.”

‘It’s terrible’

Peter Avery, CEO of the St. John’s International Airport Authority, said the organization is in “one of its darkest moments right now.”

While the announcement from Air Canada makes sense amid dwindling passenger numbers, it was “still a shock,” he said.

“It’s something that we thought we’d never see. It’s almost like an institution, the direct flight to Toronto. It’s been around for decades … and we’ve never been without that flight,” Avery said.

In 2019, 1.45 million passengers travelled through the St. John’s airport, Avery said. In 2020, that number was just over 350,000. Avery said almost half of all passenger volume comes from the direct Toronto route — a “huge” portion for the airport authority, which is in dire financial straits.

While the cuts makes sense, says St. John’s International Airport Authority CEO Peter Avery, they still came as a shock. (CBC)

“It’s terrible. Our revenues were down 60 per cent in 2020 and in 2021 we actually predict it’s going to be worse,” he said.

“We predict we’ll be down 63 per cent and our traffic will actually be down 80 per cent, so even worse than last year with the full effect of the pandemic.”

The future of the airline industry remains foggy, Avery said, adding that a lot hinges on the rollout of vaccines. But he suspects airlines will be smaller, and more airport will be competing for fewer flights, as economies recover over the next number of years.

“Ultimately it may mean higher ticket prices and less choice. I guess that’s the bottom line.”

Air travel options shrinking

Late last year, Air Canada cut routes in and out of Deer Lake. In the fall, WestJet also cut its routes in Atlantic Canada by 80 per cent. Earlier, in July, Air Canada slashed seven routes across Newfoundland and Labrador.

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen says the city contacted Air Canada to discuss the latest flight cancellations and ensure it was a temporary measure. (CBC)

“Between the tourism industry, the rotational workers, the outfitters, medical transportation, startup and existing businesses, this is going to hurt across the province, and it’s going to be hard to come back from,” said Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans MHA Chris Tibbs, the PC Party’s tourism critic.

Premier Andrew Furey told reporters Wednesday that he’d spoken with federal ministers, including Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

“They are seized with the issue,” Furey said.

When asked whether the province would consider bailing out Air Canada, contributing funding as it has with the oil and gas sector, Furey relayed responsibility to Ottawa.

“This is a federal file on the minister of transportation’s desk.… It’s not just N.L.; there are different regions in the country that have been impacted,” he said.

“I’m confident that they will continue to work with the industry, and Air Canada in particular, to find a resolution, to protect those routes as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Tibbs called Furey’s response “lip service,” arguing that air travel to Newfoundland and Labrador is an essential service.

“There should have been conversations long before these things happened,” he said.

St. John’s hit hard

In a year that started with Snowmageddon, followed by the pandemic, the airline cuts are just the latest in a series of blows for St. John’s, says Mayor Danny Breen.

“It’s disappointing to see, but it’s certainly understandable, I think, given the situation that we’re in,” Breen said.

“The direct connection from St. John’s to Toronto is important for tourism when it comes back, and conventions and business, as well as the ability of people to travel leisurely from the province.”

Breen said the city contacted with Air Canada this morning to talk about the cancellations and ensure it is, in fact, a temporary suspension that will return eventually.

In the meantime, Breen said, the city will have to make the best of a tough situation until the province, and the rest of Canada, is on sure footing again.

“We’re gonna have to get through this and we’re gonna have to make it work. We’re resilient here, we can manage,” he said.

“The impact on the economy, the hard part is the uncertainty around it and the not knowing, and it’s issues like this that are certainly a major concern and we want to make sure that we’re dealing with these issues and ensuring that we can continue the resumption of the economy as soon as possible.”

Air Canada cancels flights out of Labrador, St. John’s to Toronto route axed

From CBC News – link to source story

CBC News · Posted: Jan 12, 2021

Air Canada announced Tuesday that it will cancel three passenger flights out of Newfoundland and Labrador, beginning Jan. 23. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Air Canada is cutting three flight routes in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to an email from a company spokesperson Tuesday.

Service between Gander and Halifax, Goose Bay and Halifax, and St. John’s and Toronto ends Jan. 23.

“We continue to experience stifled demand due to COVID-19 and ongoing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements,” the company’s media spokesperson told CBC News in a statement.

“As a result, we are suspending until further notice all passenger flights to these destinations.”

The statement goes on to say the company regrets the impact on customers and communities but maintains it is increasingly difficult to continue to operate in such a challenging environment.

The spokesperson said the airline’s overall capacity is down 80 per cent from last year.

“Air Canada will continue to evaluate and adjust its route network as required in response to the trajectory of the pandemic and travel restrictions,” the statement says.

Passenger plane makes emergency landing at Moncton airport

From CBC News – link to source story

Air Canada Jazz flight to Toronto lands safely after smoke detected

CBC News · Posted: Jan 07, 2021

An Air Canada flight on its way to Toronto from Sydney, N.S., made an emergency landing round 6:45 a.m. Thursday without incident. (Ken Hébert/Radio-Canada)

Smoke in the cabin of a plane carrying 29 passengers from Sydney, N.S., to Toronto was forced to make an emergency landing at the Moncton airport Thursday.

The pilot realized during the flight that a smoke detector in the back lavatory was activated, said Manon Stuart, a spokesperson for Jazz Aviation, a regional partner of Air Canada. 

“Subsequently, the crew noticed a haze in the rear cabin,” Stuart wrote in an email.

With 33 people, including four crew onboard, the plane was diverted to Moncton, the nearest airport. The crew requested priority landing at about 6 a.m.

Stuart said the haze had dissipated by the time the plane landed. 

“The passengers deplaned normally.”

The CRJ900 aircraft landed safely around 6:45 am.

Julie Pondant, spokesperson for the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority, said a call came in around 6 a.m. about smoke in the cabin of the plane. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

Julie Pondant of the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority, said 911 was called, which is standard procedure.

“They dispatch their regular emergency crews, which includes ambulance, police and fire and our fire crews as well are dispatched at that same time,” said Pondant.

“The initial inspection from the firefighters came clear, basically there didn’t seem to be any smoke or anything to be worried about at that moment.”

According to Stuart there was no fire. 

“Passengers will resume their travel on the next flight scheduled to depart Moncton to Toronto around noon today,” wrote Stuart. 

Stuart said a maintenance crew is on its way to Moncton to inspect the plane to determine the cause of the problem, and to make any necessary repairs.


Free COVID-19 testing program launches at Toronto Pearson Airport for international travellers

From Global News – link to source story and video

By Gabby Rodrigues  Global News | Posted January 6, 2021

The Ontario government said it is launching a pilot program that will test international travellers returning to the province for COVID-19 at Toronto Pearson International Airport as a way to identify and stop the spread of the virus.

“Beginning today, the province, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, will offer free and voluntary COVID-19 testing for international travellers arriving and staying in the province for at least 14 days,” the government said on Wednesday. Testing will be conducted in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

The announcement comes as the federal government’s regulations requiring incoming travellers to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 7.

The government said inbound international travellers can pre-register for the program or get tested when they arrive at the airport. Officials said anyone who participates will receive a free, self-collected lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and will be supervised by a health care provider either in-person or by video as the traveller self-administers the test.

The test results will be reported within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on any positive tests, the government said.

Regardless if a person tests negative for the test at the airport, international travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days as part of the federal mandatory quarantine.

Premier Doug Ford said more than 60,000 international passengers come into Pearson every week.

“We can’t take any unnecessary risks,” Ford said. “That’s why we’re putting in place this new pilot program to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and respond to new threats like the recent strain of the virus we’re seeing in an alarming number of countries without the same travel restrictions as the U.K.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Air Canada axes sole flight due to coronavirus slump

From Bermuda’s Royal Gazette – link to source story

Sarah Lagan | Dec 30, 2020

Flights suspended: An Air Canada jet in flight (File photograph)Related Stories

Air Canada is to ground its flights to Bermuda for more than a month.

The airline said its Toronto to Bermuda service would be suspended after its January 8 flight until February 12 because of a massive slump in business caused by the coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for Air Canada said: “Air Canada currently operates one flight weekly to Bermuda from Toronto.

“Reflecting current market conditions, this flight will be temporarily suspended …”

The spokeswoman clarified today: “The last flight will operate January 8, 2021 before the resumption of service in February.”

WestJet, also Canadian, confirmed that its suspension of many international flights, including the service from Toronto to Bermuda, would remain in force.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: “The Covid-19 crisis hit WestJet and the global aviation industry with devastating force.

“Since the beginning of March, guest traffic has dropped significantly – we are operating at approximately a 75 per cent reduction year over year and have been forced to suspend the vast majority of our flying due to the pandemic.”

But she insisted: “We remain committed to service to Bermuda from Toronto and it is our intent to resume operations as soon as it becomes economically viable to do so.”

The Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday it would adjust its marketing and communications plans in the Toronto market to take account of the change.

Glenn Jones, the authority’s interim chief executive, said: “In the BTA’s regular updates with stakeholders about airlift, we are always careful to point out the fluidity of airline schedules in the current environment.

“Changes are frequent. In an early December update, we highlighted Air Canada’s reduction in service from once weekly to none for a period of about four weeks.

“Since becoming aware of this development, the BTA has made the necessary first quarter adjustments to marketing and communications plans in the Toronto market.”

A spokeswoman for British Airways said it was sorry it was operating a reduced service.

She added: “Our focus is on keeping crucial air links open where possible – bringing home customers currently abroad and transporting vital goods, and ensuring people who are permitted to travel can continue to do so safely.”

The BA spokeswoman said the airline would contact customers on cancelled flights to offer refunds.

She added flights could be rescheduled at ba.com and customers could also request a voucher for future travel “if their flight continues to operate”.

The spokeswoman said customers should check the latest UK Government travel advice at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

She added latest BA flight information was at ba.com.

American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta and United Airlines did not respond to questions on whether they planned to cut flights to the island.

Airport operators Skyport did not respond to a request for comment.

Halifax woman calls out airline for not enforcing COVID-19 health protocols during flight

From Global News – link to source and VIDEO

By Alexa MacLean  Global News | December 28, 2020

A Halifax woman is calling out an airline over a recent flight she took that left her disturbed over a lack of COVID-19 public health protocols being followed by one particular passenger and no efforts by the low-cost carrier employees to do anything about it.

Jennifer Solomon recently flew from Toronto to Halifax on a flight operated by Swoop, a low-cost carrier owned by WestJet.

She says prior to takeoff, flight attendants informed the passengers that masks must be worn at all times.

According to Solomon, that mandate was completely disregarded by one passenger and the aircrew did nothing about it.

“This particular person just flipped it off, kept it off the entire flight, kept getting up and out of their chair — going directly up to talk to the flight attendants,” she said.

Swoop declined an interview request with Global News, instead sending an email statement stating that the airline shared in Solomon’s concerns and apologizes for any distress she experienced.

Solomon says she approached the flight attendants while disembarking the plane to raise her concerns over the lack of public health enforcement, and was less than impressed with the answer she received.

“They were like, ‘Oh, we didn’t even notice this,’ and I was like, ‘how could you not notice? He was talking to you. Face-to-face without a mask,’” she said.

Canadian air passenger rights advocate, Gábor Lukács, says mask-wearing on flights is a legal requirement under an interim order by the federal government.

He says based on this, Swoop should be held accountable.

“This issue should be investigated and I would hope that Swoop would be facing some fines for failing to enforce the law. Swoop, as an airline, has a legal responsibility to ensure that those who board its flights comply with the rules,” he said.

Lukács says he feels the passenger who refused to follow the mask-wearing protocol should also be fined.

He said that there are some medical exemptions to the mask-wearing protocol, but Solomon stated this passenger didn’t provide any medical reasons for his refusal to abide by the safety measure.

“His response immediately was how COVID wasn’t real, how it’s nothing but letting ourselves get educated by the media,” she said.

“I don’t care what they believe in. What they don’t have a right to do is get other people sick. If you don’t want to wear a mask when you fly, get in a private jet, pay for it,” he said.

According to Swoop’s COVID-19 policy on their website, the airline has a “zero-tolerance” policy for travelers to be wearing masks or face coverings at all times during their flight.

Travellers who fail to comply with the mask mandate may be denied boarding and face a one-year travel suspension from all WestJet flights. The website also states that passengers who don’t wear masks must provide a valid medical certificate.

Swoop says these directives come from Transport Canada and align with WestJet Group Zero Tolerance Mask Policy.

The policy states that travellers may take their masks off to eat and drink while flying but must put it on afterwards.

Solomon hopes her story encourages other passengers to stand up for their safety if they encounter a similar situation.

“This is a pandemic. Right now it’s not just about the comfort of your travel, it’s about the safety of your family, and friends, and well-being,” she said.© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.