Travel is entirely off the table for the time being. Flights have been grounded and borders have been closed, rendering the idea almost entirely impossible. However, Air Canada flights could be resuming by the end of the year.
That’s according to Tim Strauss, Vice President of Cargo at Air Canada, who anticipated the timeline during an April 30 virtual event for the Canadian Club Toronto.
“I think by Christmas you will see a significant amount of flying again,” Strauss said, adding that the company is taking a pessimistic view so that they can “react to it rather than pull back from it.”
With that being said, though, the airline official stressed that there would likely be fewer flights for customers to choose from.
“I think a lot of that will depend on whether there is a vaccine or not, or a medicine that counters the virus,” Strauss said.
“I think those two elements are absolutely key when we look forward to predict what the networks are going to look like late this year.”
He concluded by saying that he did not anticipate Air Canada operating at anywhere near 100% or even 70% by the end of 2020, but that they will be on the “road to recovery.”
In April, Air Canada suspended all of its international flights until at least June.
It also suspended any flights headed to the United States until at least May 22. However, that could change depending on Canada-U.S. border decisions made between the two countries.
The company has also converted some of its planes to transport cargo in order to deliver much-needed PPE across the country.
Air Canada announced that any passengers taking planes for essential travel would have to follow strict health guidelines, including wearing a mask for the entirety of the flight.
Canada’s airlines have been hit hard since the widespread flight suspensions came into effect. WestJet urged the government for financial relief in April, saying that they’d be “devastated within a matter of weeks” without it.
In another effort to save on costs, major aircraft carriers will not be refunding Canadian travellers for cancellations related to COVID-19. Instead, passengers may be paid back in travel credits to use at a later time.
The CTA backed this decision, saying it would “threaten their economic viability” to refund each and every one of their passengers.
However, with Air Canada’s statement, there’s hope on the horizon for airlines to resume operations, slowly but surely.