Air Canada CEO pleads for lighter travel restrictions

Marco Verch

The Chief Executive of Air Canada (ADH2) , Calin Rovinescu, has called on the Canadian government to ease travel restrictions in Canada, so that the airline can “do some reasonable amounts of business.”

The call by the carrier’s Chief Executive comes as more international countries, especially in Europe, have begun to relax travel restrictions as cases of COVID-19 decrease. But in Canada, most international flights have been cancelled and the Canadian-US border has been closed to all but essential travel since March 21st. According to CBS and Reuters, the Canadian government is considering extending its travel ban to international passengers which was due to expire on June 21st.

With speculation that the ban could be extended and with other countries opening up to international visitors, Mr. Rovinescu said that these restrictions on travellers are now “disproportionate.” The travel restrictions which are considered unreasonable by the airline’s president include a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone returning to Canada, including people with no symptoms, which was enacted by the Canadian government. In addition, some provinces in Canada have even closed entry to Canadian nationals living in other provinces in Canada.

Air Canada (ADH2) ‘s Chief Executive was one of more than 100 leaders who attended a virtual roundtable discussion on the national travel and tourism sector yesterday. At the end of this meeting, an open letter was sent to the federal and provincial governments and was also signed by Air Canada (ADH2) ’s President and CEO. The letter which was addressed to both national and regional policymakers urged them to align with other international countries around the world that are easing travel restrictions.

The letter states that “many of the travel restrictions currently in place are simply too broad or unnecessary,” and goes on to say that “limitations on inter-provincial travel that restrict Canadians from freely exploring our country, should be removed. Canadians should be free to travel across Canada.” The group is also advocating for a more targeted approach to international passengers, whereby visitors from certain countries might be deemed less “risky” and would, therefore, be allowed to enter the country without having to enter mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

At a webinar hosted by Air Transport World’s Karen Walker, Rovinescu highlighted that the situation regarding COVID-19 has not been fully “dealt with yet,” adding that the pandemic has been “catastrophic for our industry and, quite frankly, an economic tragedy.” In addition to commenting on the travel industry, he also compared the virus to “a train barreling at us and we have to be mindful how to deal with it.” During the webinar, the airline’s President also acknowledged that “we can’t go from five per cent to fifty-five per cent overnight. It will take a minimum of three years to get back to 2019 levels.” However, the airline’s CEO still remains confident that air travel will reopen eventually and even though he would like it to sooner, he also recognises that “it will be a slow buildup.”

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