Air Canada flights suspended until April
Flights run by Air Canada to Bermuda will be grounded until at least the spring, the airline confirmed yesterday.
A company spokesman told The Royal Gazette that increased travel restrictions were among factors that affected short-range bookings.
He said that flights to Bermuda were “temporarily suspended until at least April 12, 2021”.
The Air Canada spokesman explained: “Since the implementation of 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 rationalise our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand.”
He added that “close-in bookings” were those made within a few days or weeks of the travel date rather than several months ahead.
The airline said last month that its weekly Toronto to Bermuda service would be suspended after its January 8 flight until February 12 “reflecting current market conditions”.
But it announced last Wednesday that services across the network would be further reduced as part of its Covid-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan.
It meant that first quarter capacity would drop by an additional 25 per cent.
The “system-wide changes” resulted in a reduction of about 1,700 staff in addition to more than 200 employees affected in its Express carriers brand.
Lucie Guillemette, Air Canada’s executive vice-president and chief commercial officer, said: “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.”
She added that the Government of Canada expected "the vast majority of eligible Canadians to be vaccinated by September“.
Ms Guillemette said: “We look forward to seeing our business start to return to normal and to bringing back some of our more than 20,000 employees currently on furlough and layoff.”
The airline’s 2021 first quarter capacity will be about 20 per cent of what it operated in the same period of 2019.
A spokesman added: “Air Canada will continue to evaluate and adjust its route network as required in response to the trajectory of the pandemic, government-imposed travel restrictions and quarantines, and to market and regulatory conditions.
“Affected customers on all routes will be contacted by Air Canada and offered options, including refunds for eligible customers and alternative routings where available.”
Restrictions in Canada mean that air travellers without Covid-19 symptoms must quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
Anyone with the disease or showing signs of it must isolate for two weeks.
British Airways has also further cut back its service between Bermuda and the UK, reducing the flights to once a week from next week.
A Skyport spokeswoman said: “As with recent announcements by Air Canada and British Airways, airlines continue to make difficult decisions regarding capacity adjustments to Bermuda and throughout their networks in response to this unprecedented global decline in travel demand.
“Total passenger traffic at the LF Wade International Airport for 2020 was down nearly 80 per cent versus 2019 and is not expected to begin showing signs of recovery until the second half of 2021 and into 2022.
“Until then, we can expect airlines to further modify their schedules as travel demand warrants and as countries continue to manage the transmission of Covid-19 and the roll out of vaccine supplies.”
She added: “For January, traditionally Bermuda’s slowest month notwithstanding the impacts of the pandemic, the island has maintained service to and from Miami, Atlanta, New York and London, with charter flight service to the Azores.
“Skyport provides an updated monthly flight schedule on its website at bermudaairport.com and strongly encourages passengers to check with their respective airlines before travelling as schedules remain rather fluid.”