Following moves by several European countries, Canada is also banning flights from the UK as a precaution against a new and more contagious strain of coronavirus reported there. The news came via a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Transport Canada on December 20th, and was effective midnight December 21st and will last for 72 hours. After this initial period, the prohibition may be extended or enhanced.
The Transport Canada NOTAM
Issued late in the evening of December 20th by Canadian civil aviation regular Transport Canada, the NOTAM prohibits all commercial, private, and charter flights transporting passengers from the UK and reads as follows:
“…it is necessary for aviation safety and the protection of the public, to prohibit the ops of commercial air svc conducting sked and non sked international svc from the United Kingdom for the transport of passengers on an inbound flight to Canada. This further extends to all private and charter flights.”
It goes on to list the following exemptions:
- Cargo flights
- Technical stops, where no passengers disembark
- Aircraft safety situations
- Special authorizations granted by Transport Canada
According to the CBC, over the past week, at least 10 nonstop flights departed from London airports and arrived in Toronto, while there were four to Montreal, and two to Vancouver. Some of these flights continued on to other destinations, including Calgary and Edmonton.
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Comment from Canadian authorities
Canada’s Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, issued the following statement via Twitter:
We are closing the border to all flights entering Canada from the United Kingdom. These measures take effect at midnight tonight, December 20, 2020.
— Bill Blair (@BillBlair) December 21, 2020
The minister added: “We are taking this important action to protect Canadians and to keep our communities safe. These measures have been imposed following advice from public health officials. The restrictions will initially be in place for 72 hrs, after which time they could be extended or enhanced.”
Reaction from Air Canada
Air Canada tells Simple Flying that it will be temporarily suspending all flights between Canada and London Heathrow Airport as of Monday. The two final flights will be departing from Toronto and from Vancouver today.
The airline stated:
“We regret the impact of the government directive to immediately suspend flights on our customers’ travel plans in the middle of the holiday season and will continue to monitor this dynamic situation closely and adjust the schedule as appropriate,” -Air Canada
WIth its flights canceled, affected customers will be notified by the airline and offered options, including travel on other carriers or over other gateways where available.
Air Canada currently operates direct flights to London Heathrow from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Canada joins a growing list of European nations, including Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Italy, in blocking arrivals from the UK.
This new move by Transport Canada won’t affect a lot of travelers (compared to ‘normal times’) given the fact that the Government of Canada has had a blanket ban in place against all international travel since March, although there have been a few relaxations issued since.
At the moment, these are the only foreign nationals permitted to enter the country (with 14-day quarantine upon arrival):
- Immediate or extended family members of a Canadian citizen, a person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more
- Persons authorized by the Public Health Agency of Canada to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons
Have you been affected by this sudden travel suspension? Share your situation with us in the comments.