In a media brief published on Monday evening, WestJet CEO Ed Sims announced that the airline would be making drastic decisions regarding their current operations.
Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement calling on all Canadians travelling abroad to come home, as well as recommendations from the government to control the further spread of COVID-19, WestJet has instilled new measures to ensure that Canadians return home safely.
“On Sunday, March 22, at 11:59 pm MDT, we will suspend scheduled commercial operations for all international and transborder flights for a 30 day period,” the statement reads.
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“To be clear, this means our final commercially scheduled flights from international and transborder destinations will launch on Sunday night by 11:59 pm local time; after that, we will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government.”
As of Monday night, cross-border and international tickets will no longer be available during these 30 days.
“On Wednesday, March 18 at 11:59 pm MDT, WestJet will suspend all outbound international ticket sales for travel until Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 pm MDT,” the statement explains.
“So we are no longer sending Canadians out of the country and can instead focus on bringing them home.”
Additionally, WestJet is also in the process of lowering costs for remaining seats into Canada across all cabins.
The airline will also decrease its domestic schedule by approximately 50%, according to the statement.
At this juncture, all changes discussed will be in place for the duration of the 30 days.
For customers that have existing bookings for domestic flights within Canada, no action is required. The airline will contact you if your flight is impacted.
The same ruling goes for those with an existing booking for an international flight that departs before 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 22.
Those who possess existing bookings for international flights with the first segment departing after 11:59 pm on March 22, if your flight is eligible for online changes or cancellations, you can manage your flight via the My Trips portal on the WestJet website.
However, no action is required, and the airline will contact you with other flight options.
Finally, for those who have an existing booking for an international flight and have already started their trip, but plan on returning to Canada on a flight that departs after 11:59 pm on March 22, there may still be flights available for you to return.
These customers are advised to check the WestJet website for availability and manage their flights through the My Trips portal.
As well, guests are strongly encouraged to check the status of their flights before leaving the airport. As of tonight, according to the brief, there have been 67 cancellations and 135 cancellations for Tuesday, March 16.
Additionally, WestJet’s change/cancel policy has been updated to permit free alterations and cancellations to occur up to two hours before departure, a change to the pre-existing policy for travellers cancelling trips between March 3 and April 30, 2020.
As Prime Minister Trudeau explained in his press conference on Monday, all Canadians that are currently abroad should return home as soon as possible.