Canada Prolongs Ban On Flights From India And Pakistan

The Canadian Government has extended its ban on direct flights from India and Pakistan until June 21. This latest extension follows the attempt to control the spread of new variants of COVID-19 across Canada.

Air Canada Boeing 777
The Canadian government has extended the ban on Pakistan and India flights. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The first extension of the ban

On April 22, Canada published a statement suspending flights from India and Pakistan. Transport Canada issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) suspending all commercial and private passenger flights from these two countries.

Additionally, every passenger that departed India or Pakistan to Canada via an indirect route would have to obtain a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada. In a statement, Transport Canada said,

“These measures will help manage the elevated risk of imported cases of COVID-19 and variants of concern into Canada during a time of increasing pressure on our health care system.”

Now, because the original 30-day ban was set to expire on Saturday, Canada is extending it. This decision was a no-brainer. India is still averaging over 250,000 daily COVID-19 new cases. However, Pakistan is far fewer, with around 3,000 daily cases at the moment.

Pakistan International Airlines Getty
Pakistan International Airlines flew from Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore to Toronto in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

Canada is satisfied with the results so far

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has heavily restricted international flight operations. The only people that can currently enter the country are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, people registered under the Indian Act, protected persons, and eligible foreign citizens.

The travel restrictions have had some interesting effects. For instance, currently, most of Canada’s COVID positive flights are domestic. As reported by CBC, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said today,

“I can say that we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 arriving from international flights since this restriction was put in place.”

Canadian airlines are calling on the Government for a clear plan ahead. Photo: Getty Images

Which airlines are impacted by the measure?

In May 2019, there were 130 monthly flights from India and Pakistan to Canada. Two airlines operated flights between these countries, Air Canada and Pakistan International Airlines.

The first offered flights from Vancouver and Toronto to Delhi. Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines flew from Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore to Toronto, according to data provided by Cirium’s database. In total, the two carriers offered 39,026 monthly seats.

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Canadian airlines call for a clear plan

This week, the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) called on the federal government to issue a re-start plan. The carriers need clarity regarding a program that allows vaccinated people to travel again, they outlined.

NACC congratulated the European Union following its decision to reopen its borders to vaccinated travelers. Mike McNaney, CEO of NACC, said the announcement,

“… demonstrates that the EU continues to take a science-based approach to the development of its aviation.”

He added Canada needs a similar and clear plan outlining the path forward as vaccination rollout aggressively moves forward.

NACC, along with over 60 other industry organizations, wrote Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. They stated Canada must move forward with a restart plan for the overall economy and the travel sector.

“Countries that successfully plan will not only safely restart aviation and their overall economy, they will take jobs and investment from countries that do not,” added McNaney.

What do you think of Canada’s latest announcement? Let us know in the comments.