Government Rules Prompt Air Transat To Halt Flights Until June

Air Transat has suspended all flights until June due to the travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. AT Transat, the parent company of Air Transat, announced that it won’t resume operations until June 14th, when it hopes for a resurgent summer travel season.

Air Transat A310 Cuba
Air Transat will now be looking at a mid-June restart date. Photo: Getty Images

Canadian travel restrictions force shutdown

Restrictions in Canada have forced carrier Air Transat to effectively cancel all flights until June at the earliest. The restrictions have led to a slump in travel demand, with Air Transat deciding it would be better to stop operating flights until demand picks up again.

The airline clarified that COVID restrictions, including mandatory quarantines and border closures, had caused a significant decline in demand for its flights. Air Transat initially suspended its flights back in January and had earmarked April as a return date, but has now pushed this back to June.

Air Transat Airbus A330
Leaders at Air Transat clarified that Canadian travel restrictions played a huge part in its decision. Photo: Getty Images

Annick Guerard, chief operations officer, said during an earnings call,

“We expect to restart our operations in mid-June, which marks the start of summer demand.”

Air Transat is hoping to bounce back come the summer, with the mid-June date coinciding with a typically busy period for air travel. However, the airline has by no means set this date in stone, with uncertainty around when restrictions will be lifted. Guerard added,

“We plan to operate as of mid-June. However, this could be reviewed depending on several factors, including coordination between countries and how travel will be managed moving forward, establishing protocols and standards that will allow people to travel from one country or one zone to the other.”

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Will Canada’s restrictions be loosened?

Many voices in Canada are calling for authorities to relax restrictions to help the aviation industry recover. The Canadian Airports Council has called on the government to do what it can to open up air travel, including lessening strict travel requirements. Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council, said,

“While the federal government has been supportive, it is missing the sense of urgency to act quickly and decisively. The reality is that these losses are unsustainable. Without government action, air travel will not only become a lot more expensive, but Canadians everywhere will have fewer choices of routes and destinations, including at the four major hub airports.”

Air Transat and Air Canada merger moves closer

Air Canada has been looking to take over Air Transat for a long time now, with progress on the deal moving slowly. Last month, the merger was granted approval by Transport Canada, bringing the move closer to realization. There are several terms of approval to the deal going through, while some airlines have spoken up in opposition to the merger.

Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner C-FGFZ
Air Canada recently received government approval to take over Air Transat. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Air Transat has been struggling since the pandemic, with its latest announcement further hitting the airline financially. Last September, Air Transat was faced with laying off 2,000 workers unless it received financial support. The airline has since claimed that, unless its merger with Air Canada is allowed to go through, it doubts whether it will survive at all.

Are you sad to see Air Transat cancel its flights until June? Do you expect the airline will be able to begin operating flights again by the summer? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments.