Air Canada blasted its own government on Friday, accusing the Trudeau administration of making an “impossible operating environment” for the airline after it posted a CAD$1.55 billion operating loss within the six months to the top of June. The Canadian government is facing mounting calls to relax tough travel restrictions and quarantine rules that have about ground international aviation to and from Canada to a halt.
“As with many other major airlines worldwide, Air Canada’s second-quarter results confirm the devastating and unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and government-imposed travel and border restrictions and quarantine requirements,” explained the airline’s chief executive Calin Rovinescu.
“Canada’s federal and inter-provincial restrictions are among the foremost severe within the world, effectively shutting down most commercial aviation in our country,” Rovinescu lamented after it had been revealed Air Canada passenger numbers were down 96 per cent on an equivalent period last year.
Rovinescu urged Trudeau to require “reasonable steps” to securely reopen Canada, claiming that action was needed urgently. Other countries, Rovinescu argued, had already managed to loosen travel restrictions while balancing the priorities of public health.
Canada has advised against about essential international travel since March 14, effectively nullifying travel insurance for anyone who does want to travel abroad. Most foreign citizens remain barred from entering Canada, while all returning Canadian citizens must undergo a strict 14-day quarantine, regardless of where within the world they’re coming back from .
Returning travellers who break quarantine confront to 6 months in jail, while the penalty for infecting someone with COVID-19 may be a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
More than 140 major Canadian corporations and travel and tourism companies recently wrote to the Canadian government to demand blanket travel restrictions get replaced with a more nuanced approach. Canada’s Transport Minister, Marc Garneau said Friday the govt recognised the impact COVID-19 was having on the air sector but policies would be “guided by science and public health experts.”
Air Canada is currently working with Toronto-based Spartan Bioscience to explore the likelihood of rapid COVID-19 testing at airports and says advanced biosafety measures under its CleanCare+ program reduces the danger of exposure to the novel Coronavirus.
Without government support, either through subsidies or a loosening of restrictions, Air Canada cautioned it’d be forced to chop further – with more job losses or cancelling aircraft orders. That threat includes rescinding a sale agreement for Airbus A220 aircraft that are made in Quebec.
But expecting a vaccine for COVID-19, Rovinescu warned, was simply not an option.