The Canadian Government’s decision to halt every flight to Mexican destinations until April 30, 2021 will cost the tourism industry around US$782 million in lost revenue, the Mexican Tourism Minister said recently. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada was one of the key air markets for Mexico. Now, that’s on hold.
How affected will the airline industry be?
Last week, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, announced new travel restrictions. The country limited flights to sun destinations and imposed mandatory quarantines at approved hotels for returning travelers.
Canadian airlines, such as Air Canada and WestJet, have suspended their flights to Mexico from January 29 to April 30. For instance, Air Canada has stopped flying to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico City. Likewise, WestJet (along with Swoop) has discontinued its weekly frequencies to Puerto Vallarta, Cancún, Cabo San Lucas, and Mazatlán.
Currently, only one Mexican airline was flying to Canada: Aeromexico. Before the pandemic, Interjet also had weekly flights to Canada, but the airline has unofficially ceased operations. Moreover, the Canadian Transportation Agency suspended Interjet’s license to operate in Canadian airspace last year.
Aeromexico is suspending its flights to Canada starting in February’s second week. In the meantime, it is helping its travelers return to their country of origin, it said in a statement.
The new Canadian travel restrictions will impose a heavy burden on Canadian and Mexican airlines and other tourism chain members in both countries.
There will be a loss of up to 791,000 tourists, many of whom come to Mexico during the spring break season.
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The Mexican airline industry is facing new challenges
In 2020, the Mexican airline industry recovered nicely from the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not to say that the Mexican airlines are away from any danger. They lost 51% of their passengers, compared to 2019. The COVID-19 crisis brought Mexico back to levels seen in 2012.
Low-cost operators Volaris and Viva Aerobus drove Mexico’s recovery in 2020. Also, the Mexico-US air transport market helped fuel the tourism industry due to the lack of travel restrictions. But that has already changed.
Since January 26, the new US Government is requiring proof of negative COVID-19 test for all air passengers. This requirement is impacting the Mexico-US connectivity. For instance, the Mexican airline Aeromar has already suspended one route to the US due to this measure.
We still have to wait one month, at least, to see how much the Canadian and American measures are impacting the air connectivity with Mexico.
What are Canadians saying?
The new travel restrictions are plunging the sector more into its severe crisis for the Canadian airline and airport industry. Daniel-Robert Gooch, Canadian Airports Council president, recently said,
“For the past ten months, Canada’s airports have kept passengers and workers safe, maintained operational capabilities, and served their communities. With demand down by 85 to 90% since the spring, they have done so by burning through any cash reserves, canceling projects, laying off staff, and assuming $2.8 billion in additional debt by the end of 2021, just to keep their doors open. Today, there is nothing left to cut, yet the restrictions keep piling on.”
Moreover, international travel demand in Canada has been non-existent in the last few months. According to the Council, since April, international travel demand has been about 5% of where it was in 2019. Therefore, the industry is pleading with the Federal Government to become more actively engaged in the air sector’s financial situation.
“Canada’s airports say the federal and provincial governments should be working more closely with industry on health measures,” it said.
What do you think of the new Canadian travel restrictions? Let us know in the comments.