Multiple Canadian airlines have announced plans to suspend winter flight routes to international destinations due to factors associated with the Omicron variant.
This week, Air Canada became the latest company to confirm an updated schedule for early 2022, citing “the current pandemic context.” It suspended flights to some tourist hot spots in places like the Caribbean and Cuba, among others.
Days earlier, Transat A.T. told Global News that almost 30% of its flights would not go ahead in January and February. The travel company said the Omicron variant, passenger cancellations and the federal government’s “restrictive measures” were responsible for the changes.
Flight tracking service FlightAware reported that on Thursday alone, Air Canada cancelled 12% of its flights, while WestJet cancelled 17%.
WestJet has cancelled almost 15% of its scheduled flights in January as the Canadian carrier is faced with staffing shortages due to the Omicron variant.
In a statement on December 30, WestJet’s Interim President and CEO Harry Taylor said that “despite all contingency planning, in addition to hiring back thousands of WestJetters to safely support peak operations, we find ourselves no longer able to predictably resource our planned schedule due to Omicron impact.”
Taylor went on to call for federal and provincial governments to take “urgent” action to minimize disruptions for the industry.
Most passengers facing cancellations and suspended services will qualify for refunds from the airlines, with Air Canada promising to get in touch with impacted customers themselves.
While airlines are still permitted to operate and Canadians are still allowed to travel if they want to, the Government of Canada’s international travel advisory remains in place.
It warns that international travel is risky right now due to COVID-19 and warns of the chance of being stuck overseas due to changing restrictions.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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