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Coronavirus: Air Canada suspending flights to U.S. for 4 weeks after April 26

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Air Canada says it’s suspending all scheduled flights to the United States for about four weeks starting April 27 following a decision by the Canadian and U.S. governments to continue banning non-essential travel for another 30 days amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Barring any further extension to those travel restrictions, the airline will resume its service to the U.S. on May 22, according to a Tuesday news release.

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The company is waiving flight change fees for “affected customers with bookings during this period,” and they should consult rebooking policies and revised schedules online, Air Canada said in its statement.

The policy around cancelled flights on Air Canada’s COVID-19 webpage states that “cancellations that are within an airline’s control can lead to a refund” but cancellations triggered by the pandemic “are beyond our control.”

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The policy notes that customers with non-refundable tickets will get a full credit that they can apply to future travel.

Asked to clarify whether affected customers who purchased a refundable ticket can get a refund due to the suspension, a company spokesperson responded: “Customers with refundable tickets will get refunds according to our policies.”

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After the border restrictions were first implemented on March 21, the airline had maintained “limited service” to 11 destinations in the U.S., “primarily to facilitate the repatriation of Canadians,” Air Canada said in its statement.

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The border travel restrictions had been set to expire on April 21 but were renewed officially over the weekend.

“The last scheduled commercial flight from the U.S. to Canada will be on April 26,” Air Canada’s statement said.

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The Montreal-based company said it has reduced its flight operations “by more than 90 per cent” since mid-March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Senior company executives are expected to present Air Canada’s first-quarter results for the year on May 4.

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Air Canada isn’t the only domestic airline that was forced to hit the brakes on much of its operations amid the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week, WestJet said it’s extending its suspension on international and U.S. routes through June 4. The company has also assisted with flying Canadians home who had been abroad.

For its part, Porter Airlines announced in March it was axing all its flights until June 1.

“We’re following developments, including border restrictions, but have not made changes to the planned June 1 date as of now,” Porter said in a statement to Global News on Tuesday.

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All three passenger airlines have said they plan to apply to the federal government’s wage subsidy program to retain or rehire thousands of workers they had to lay off temporarily due to the pandemic.

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