International flights return to regional airports after pandemic restrictions

International air traffic will return to more regional airports soon, after flights were restricted for most of the year as part of the government’s efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

International air traffic will return to more regional airports soon, after flights were restricted for most of the year as part of the government’s efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said airports in eight mid-sized cities could reopen their runways to planes across the border from November 30.

Airports stretch from Victoria to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. The other six are in Waterloo and Hamilton in Ontario, Abbotsford and Kelowna in British Columbia, as well as in Saskatoon and Regina.

“I am pleased that the increased immunization levels have allowed us to safely reopen these additional Canadian airports for international passenger flights,” said Alghabra on the tarmac at Waterloo International Airport.

“This decision will help ensure that travelers can access more regional airports for their international travel this winter, while continuing to support our government’s measured approach to reopening our borders. “

The airline industry had pushed the government to allow more airports to take international flights, allowing for travel to and from the United States and the Caribbean as the holidays approach.

Ten airports currently enjoy this status, down from four when Ottawa first introduced the restriction in February as part of a move to discourage non-essential travel, slow the spread of COVID-19 variants and to focus the location of quarantine hotels.

Air service across the country in the last quarter only reached 37% of its 2019 levels and only 20% for international traffic, said Canadian Airports Council Chairman Daniel-Robert Gooch.

“We see no reason why these communities have to wait any longer,” he said in a statement, citing vaccination figures and health protocols.

About 84 percent of Canadians aged 12 and older were fully immunized as of Friday, according to the federal government.

As of November 30, all air travelers in Canada must be fully vaccinated to board.

Garth Lund, commercial director of low-cost carrier Flair Airlines, said the Edmonton-based company was grateful for the government’s move.

“We look forward to offering low fares to snowbirds young and old who want to soak up the sun this fall and winter,” he said in a statement.

Airlines continue to call for completion of the COVID-19 PCR test that arriving passengers should not take more than 72 hours before scheduled take-off.

“Pre-departure PCR testing is not necessary and we will continue to advocate for its elimination,” Air Canada CEO said on Tuesday in a conference call with investors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 2, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press


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