Air Canada among airlines suspending flights even later into the year

Apr 13 2020, 2:41 pm

Air Canada is suspending a majority of international flights until June in response to the massive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline is suspending service to over 160 routes due to the substantial decrease in demand across the entire airline industry as well as the multitude of government-sanctioned travel advisories and border closures enacted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will continue to operate domestic and international flights with a reduced schedule,” Air Canada writes on its website.

“The schedule is subject to change, as we continue to monitor demand and government restrictions on travel.”

As of right now, a variety of routes will remain in operation until May 31, including flights across North America as well as the Atlantic, Pacific, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

“We continue to adapt our schedule and capacity in response to COVID-19 and have postponed launches or extended the temporary suspension of several routes,” the airline explains on its website.

A comprehensive list of the current schedule, as well as route suspensions and airport operation suspensions, can be found online.

Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines have also announced temporary suspensions until May 31, 2020.

According to its website, Air Transat will be issuing flight credit for travel within two years of customers’ original return date for those unable to travel due to flight cancellations, rather than supplying refunds citing “extraordinary circumstances.”

“This unprecedented situation is well beyond our control; we believe that the 24-month credit is an acceptable solution, and we are confident that our customers will be able to travel again in the near future, once the crisis passes,” the company writes.

Similarly, Sunwing is also issuing flight credits in the place of refunds, and passengers with departure dates between March 17 and 31 can redeem them for departures until June 20, 2020.

These policies may come to the dismay of travellers who could better use the money from a refund, especially during challenging times such as these, rather than a travel credit.

Recently, the United States Department of Transportation issued a formal enforcement notice requiring all US and foreign airlines to provide refunds to customers for flights “within, or from the United States” that was cancelled or experienced significant schedule adjustments due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) explains in a statement on its website that the Canada Transportation Act and Air Passenger Protection Regulations only go as far as to require airlines to ensure passengers can complete their itineraries.

According to the statement, the CTA believes that the current policy of providing travel vouchers in the place of cash refunds is an acceptable compromise, citing that airlines “should not be expected to take steps that could threaten their economic viability.”