Air Transat Cuts Winter Schedule By 30% As Omicron Hits Demand

Air Transat is canceling nearly a third of the flights in its schedule this winter. The Montreal, Quebec-based airline cites the challenges brought about by the Omicron variant as the primary cause of the move.

Air Transat Airbus A321-211 C-GTCY
Air Transat has had to make an important call early on in the year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

A tough start

Canada’s coronavirus cases have rocketed heading into 2022, with a daily average of around 40,000 cases a day, compared to a daily average of approximately 3,000 cases at the beginning of December. As with most countries across the world, Canada’s airlines are seeing a drop in demand due to the change in circumstances.

Amid the current social conditions and the related restrictive measures, Air Transat is cutting 30% of its winter flights. The carrier hasn’t highlighted which routes are affected but the revised schedule will be set from today and will last until February 25th. Additionally, there could be more adaptations if required.

Simple Flying reached out to Air Transat for comments on its winter schedule. The airline emphasizes that it is aware that this is an exceptional situation that may cause inconvenience to some of its passengers. Therefore, the firm is contacting those affected by the changes and will refund the total amount of the canceled trip.

Air Transat Airbus A330 Getty
The airline shares that it will offer to rebook or cancel affected reservations where possible. Photo: Getty Images

High hopes

At the end of last year, the operator highlighted that it was looking forward to action in 2022 following a challenging year in Canadian aviation. Services had been returning steadily since the company resumed normal operations at the end of July. Notably, the company proudly exceeded targets during the fall and cut down cash spending.

Air Transat anticipated stronger returns in the winter and remained optimistic heading into the new year. However, this week’s update shows that the difficulties are likely to take their toll on Canadian aviation in the coming months.

“Following the extensive streamlining of our fleet that has been ongoing for several years, the codeshare agreement announced this quarter is the first step forward in our alliance strategy, with further advances to follow in the coming months,” stated Air Transat president and CEO Annick Guérard in a company statement.

“For the winter, we plan to operate from eight Canadian airports to eight destinations in Europe, 22 in the South and five in the United States, including Miami and Fort Myers, where we’ll be flying for the first time. To do that, we will be deploying capacity that will grow from 50% to 75% of pre-pandemic capacity over the winter. We will then build volume further for the summer season, which will include two new routes to Europe and two new destinations in the United States.”

Air Transat Airbus A330-C-GTSD.
Air Transat is planning to operate over 250 flights to 44 destinations this summer. Photo: Getty Images

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Nationwide struggles

The airline isn’t the only Canadian carrier reporting cancellations. A week ago, WestJet, which has been expanding codeshares with Air Transat, shared that it has cut 15% of its scheduled flights through to the end of this month. Like other operators in North America, the company notes that staff sickness is rocking operations.

Overall, it was a tough year for carriers in Canada. While many nations’ aviation sectors reopened in 2021, Canada’s market remained largely restricted, with key segments such as transborder flights taking longer to recover due to restrictions. As a result, airlines refocused their attention on the expansion of domestic services.

The country’s industry will be hoping for better outcomes by the time the summer schedule starts. Nonetheless, there will undoubtedly be plenty of chops and changes as the pandemic continues.

What are your thoughts about Air Transat cutting down its winter schedule amid the impact of Omicron? What do you make of the airline’s response to the current conditions? Let us know what you think of the overall situation in the comment section.