Yesterday Air Canada operated a special repatriation flight from Casablanca, Morocco to Montreal, Canada. Flight AC2003, which was operated by one of Air Canada’s Boeing 777-300ERs, flew a total of 444 passengers back across the Atlantic to touch down on Canadian soil.
Airlines around the world have been operating repatriation flights to bring home citizens stranded abroad as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, Air Canada ran a special repatriation flight from Casablanca, Morocco to Montreal in order to bring home Canadians who were stranded in the North African country.
Morocco flight restrictions
Although Morocco only recorded its third death and had fewer than 80 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday, flights into and out of the country have been limited for more than a week now.
On 14 March, the Moroccan government announced it would be temporarily restricting all flights from 25 different countries, including Canada, Germany, Turkey and Brazil. As a result, hundreds of Canadian citizens found themselves stranded in Morocco, without any means of returning home for the foreseeable future.
Arrangements to bring Canadian citizens back home
Because so many Canadians were stuck in Morocco, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been in self-isolation for COVID-19 precautions himself, announced plans for the repatriation flight. “We’re in discussion with Canadian airlines to help Canadians stranded abroad come home,” Trudeau said on Friday. Trudeau’s wife has been confirmed to be infected with the virus.
Although yesterday’s flight was arranged specifically for the purpose of repatriating Canadians from Morocco, passengers still had to pay for their ticket as the flight was operated by Air Canada. As reported by CBC News, the cost of each ticket for the flight was $1,272 plus tax. While this may sound a lot, for most it’s a small price to pay to be able to return home safely. Additionally, Canadian citizens can apply for up to $5,000 of COVID-19-related travel reimbursement from the government.
Flight AC2003 took off from Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport at 20:25 and landed at Montréal–Trudeau International Airport 23:07 local time. There were 444 passengers aboard the flight, including many families.
Touching down from Casablanca. We are happy to share that at 23:07 pm, the first of our special flights to bring Canadian citizens home landed in Montreal, carrying 444 passengers, and the amazing crew that made it all possible. pic.twitter.com/IvN7Ldvf8C
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) March 22, 2020
Air Canada was instructed to deny boarding to any passengers who displayed symptoms of the virus. Symptoms include raised temperature or coughing. This is being done in order to minimize the chances of further transmission back in Canada. The airline will be running additional repatriation flights over the coming days and the Canadian government has stated that its current priority countries are Peru and Spain. Canada’s second-largest airline, WestJet, also has numerous repatriation flights scheduled for this week, with a total of 34 between 23 and 25 March.
An unusual repatriation flight
As reported by One Mile at a Time, one recent repatriation flight between Morocco and Canada stood out as unusual. It involved a 37-year-old Boeing 737 owned by Canadian charter airline Nolinor. It’s journey to Morocco involved no fewer than three stops at Goose Bay, Reykjavik and Shannon, before finally touching down in Casablanca.