On Wednesday afternoon, the announcement came down from Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos that the federal government is reinstating the travel advisory against all non-essential travel.
And considering the ups and downs that the travel industry has been through since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the news came as a gut punch to some of the staff at Regina International Airport.
“I think it’s a little bit deflating for sure,” said Regina Airport Authority customer service manager Justin Reves. “Especially when just a few weeks ago we had this removed and everybody was excited again. We had our international status come back and sending off our first international flights just a few days ago.
“Now it’s difficult and it’s going to be difficult for a lot of people to make decisions about what to do with their plans, and you know how important hot holidays are, especially in a place like Saskatchewan, and especially with last year most of them being cancelled,” he said.
Uncertainty around the Omicron COVID-19 variant has triggered a rapid escalation of new travel restrictions.
Saskatoon Airport’s president and CEO, Stephen Maybury also weighed in on the new advisory, “Although this federal announcement to restore the travel advisory against all non-essential international travel will inevitably hamper the recovery of the aviation and travel sector, we support the federal government in their decision to do what’s in the best interest of Canadians. We continue to do our part by being flexible and adaptive to rapidly changing travel measures in order to get Canadians safely where they need to go,” he said.
The new restrictions are also especially tough on airlines that have flights to primarily hot international destinations.
“Something like the Omicron variant, we know it’s going to have an impact, especially for companies like Sunwing, who fly out of here and run essentially all hot holidays to international destinations. That’s devastating for them,” said Reves.
Reves went on to say that the travel industry has been hit so hard over the last couple of years, so this is going to feel like a setback for a lot of operators in a lot of places.