Air Canada says it will “gradually suspend” the majority of its international flights by the end of March amid Canada’s and other countries’ moves to close their borders over the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline said Wednesday that they will still serve a “small number of international and trans-border destinations” from select Canadian cities after April 1.
“The airline also intends to continue serving all provinces and territories of Canada after that date, albeit with a significantly reduced network,” the company said in a statement.
A limited number of international “air bridges” will continue to operate between “one or more” Canadian hubs and six international airports — London, Paris, Frankfurt, Delhi, Tokyo and Hong Kong — throughout the month of April to help repatriate citizens back to Canada.
Air Canada’s U.S. network will similarly be whittled down from 53 airports to 13, starting April 1, “subject to further reductions based on demand or government edicts,” the company added. The list of U.S. cities that will still see service include New York, Washington D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Between April 1 and April 30, the airline’s domestic network will shrink from 62 airports to 40, but Air Canada did not provide a list of which airports would no longer see service. Air Canada said it will have the full details of its new schedule as of April 1 on its website.
“The restrictions on travel imposed by governments worldwide, while understandable, are nonetheless having a cataclysmic effect upon the global airline industry,” Air Canada’s president and CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.
“We are working around the clock to deal with the impact for our customers and our business of the various travel restrictions that are being made by governments at unprecedented speed without advance warning. We will also look at helping Canadians to return home by operating a limited number of charters from international destinations and exploring with the Government of Canada avenues in this regard. We will provide updates as details are finalized.”
The announcement came hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada and the U.S. had mutually agreed to close their shared border to non-essential traffic.
Earlier this week, Trudeau announced Canada would be closing its borders to all other international travel, with just four Canadian airports authorized to accept international flights as of Wednesday: Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Calgary International Airport.
WestJet, Air Canada’s chief competitor, announced Monday evening it was suspending international flights for at least 30 days, and was suspending outbound international ticket sales through March 22.
Several other airlines have suspended international operations to focus on bringing Canadians back home from abroad.