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Canadian airlines suspend most international flights until May 31 due to coronavirus

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Air Canada is suspending most international flights until June, while Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines Ltd. are cancelling all trips until May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision extends the suspension of more than 160 Air Canada routes as well as Air Transat and Sunwing trips by another month as closed borders and vanishing travel demand continue to ravage the airline industry.

Air Canada says it is still operating repatriation flights for Canadians stuck abroad on three continents in collaboration with the Canadian government.

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Air Transat, owned by Transat AT Inc., says it will provide credit for travel within 24 months of the original return date. The company cites “extraordinary circumstances” that are beyond its control and describes the two-year voucher as “an acceptable solution.”

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Sunwing says passengers can redeem flight credit for departures until June 20, 2022.

Advocates have argued that travellers should be entitled to refunds for flight services paid for but not received, as in the United States and the European Union.

But a statement on the website of the Canadian Transportation Agency says airlines are not obliged to pay back passengers for trips suspended due to the novel coronavirus and “should not be expected to take steps that could threaten their economic viability.”