Air Canada suspends all flights to Italy amid coronavirus outbreak

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: What to know before travelling amid ongoing concerns'
COVID-19: What to know before travelling amid ongoing concerns
WATCH: COVID-19: What to know before travelling amid ongoing concerns – Feb 26, 2020

Air Canada is suspending flights to and from Italy, saying the decision was prompted by Italian regulations and “ongoing health and safety concerns” related to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus.

The airline’s last flight to Rome is scheduled to take off from Toronto Tuesday, with the final return flight departing Rome for Montreal on Wednesday.

Air Canada says it to restart service May 1. Meanwhile, it says affected customers will be notified and offered full refunds.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canada examining ways to ‘mitigate’ impact on airlines, minister says

In January, Canada’s largest airline halted all direct flights to China — the epicentre of the virus — as it braced for a hit to revenues.

The airline’s shares have fallen about 40 per cent in the past seven weeks.

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The COVID-19 has spelled difficulty for global airlines as companies suspend non-essential business travel and conventions and other events are cancelled amid increasing travel restrictions from governments.

Click to play video: 'What is COVID-19 doing to Montrealers’ travel plans?'
What is COVID-19 doing to Montrealers’ travel plans?

Federal health minister Patty Hajdu said on Tuesday she views Air Canada’s decision as “more of a fiscal one” due to travel plan cancellations.

“My understanding is given the sales are declining to that particular region, this was a practical financial decision,” she said.

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Federal government to unveil plans for COVID-19 support Wednesday

— With a file by Global News staff


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