Calgary-based WestJet said it will cut service to four domestic destinations from March 19 to June 24, citing Canada’s tight COVID-19 restrictions.
Airports to be temporarily dropped from Canada’s second-largest airline's network include: London, Ontario (YXU), which it serves via Toronto (YYZ) 4X-weekly; Lloydminster, Alberta (YLL), which it serves from Calgary (YYC) 2X-weekly; Medicine Hat, Alberta (YXH), which it serves 1X-weekly from YYC; and St. John’s, Newfoundland (YYT), which it serves from Halifax (YHZ) 3X-weekly.
Canada has some of the most stringent COVID-19 rules for air travelers in the world. The country requires both a negative COVID-19 test at the passenger’s expense and a mandated quarantine for passengers arriving in the country, and even discourages most domestic flying.
The Canadian government has not provided any specific financial relief for its airlines. "We have continued to operate in the face of uncertainty as domestic and international travel restrictions and quarantines have caused demand to plummet," WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said.
"Unfortunately, with new and increasingly restrictive policies, we are left, once again, with no other option than to suspend service to these communities."
He added: "Our ability to return to markets remains directly correlated to government policies and the prioritization of a domestic travel program. As we look ahead to contributing to the economic recovery of Canada, the relationship between testing and quarantine must evolve based on data and science." WestJet said it is operating at just 10% of pre-COVID-19 capacity.
Photo credit: Toronto Pearson International