September 24, 2023

Quarantine Hotel Future Should Be Known Soon: Air Canada CCO Says

Canadians should find out in a week or so if the controversial quarantine hotel program…

Quarantine Hotel Future Should Be Known Soon: Air Canada CCO Says

Canadians should find out in a week or so if the controversial quarantine hotel program will be extended, a top Air Canada executive says.

Meanwhile, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms will be in court in Toronto on Wednesday (April 14) seeking an injunction against the program.


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Speaking on a virtual chat with agents and the media on Tuesday, Air Canada Chief Commercial Officer and newly-named Air Canada Vacations President Lucie Guillemette said the Trudeau government’s quarantine hotel program is supposed to wind up April 30.

“Air Canada and other carriers in Canada have, of course, been at the table to discuss with government what is required for us to safely open our industry,” she said.

“Our belief …. our assumption is that we will be hearing probably in the next week or so if the government intends to extend the hotel requirement, perhaps to the end of May or maybe the end of June. It’s unknown at this point in time,” Guillemette said. “But our assumption is that we would not be living in an environment where there are hotel restrictions in the longer term.”

Guillemette noted that half of the Canadian province have some kind of limitations at the moment for travel within Canada.

“The fact that we are going to be reinstating service domestically into regional markets, or smaller markets where we regrettably had to stop service, if the assumption is that those markets will resume June 1, it stands to reason we can all be hopeful that sometime by a June-July timeframe it should be easier to travel within Canada. Do we have confirmation of that? No, we absolutely do not. But those are the assumptions we’re making as we move forward.”

As for allowing foreign nationals to come into Canada, Guillemette said Air Canada is assuming that some kind of vaccine protocol or testing on arrival will most likely be in order. She said it may take until late summer for that demand to return, but that nobody really knows at this stage.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom says it will be in Federal Court in Toronto on Wednesday April 14 seeking an injunction to stop the quarantine hotel plan until a full hearing can be heard on the issue.

Jay Cameron, litigation director for the Justice Centre, said the quarantine of healthy or asymptomatic individuals “is the functional equivalent of house arrest, and the Justice Centre will not allow it to continue unchallenged.”

WestJet last month said it has asked the Liberal government to end its controversial quarantine hotel plan by May 1, and that they’re optimistic that will take place. That, however, was before Ontario and other provinces enacted new lockdown rules.

Speaking on a conference call with the media, Andrew Gibbons, WestJet’s director of government relations, said last month that WestJet would like to expand its international offerings this summer. But he said the removal of the quarantine hotel policy would be an important consideration in that decision.

“The current hotel policy is a deterrent to travel and it’s deliberately designed to dampen demand. We have requested that that policy transition as of May 1 to a more traditional regime around testing and reduced quarantine. So that is our request and expectation, quite frankly, of the government, that we successfully transition from that hotel policy on May 1 to allow greater international” travel.

Early on Monday, Porter Airlines put out a press release saying it was moving its restart date from May 19 to June 21.

“In recent weeks, there has been open discussion by government officials about easing travel restrictions based on expectations that vaccination programs will be well advanced in the U.S. and Canada by early summer,” said Porter president and CEO Michael Deluce.

“We recognize that short-term public health measures have been enhanced recently in certain jurisdictions,” Deluce continued. “At the same time, we are looking ahead to summer and preparing for the possibility of some travel restrictions unwinding. We will begin the process of rebuilding our operations as soon as conditions allow based on government decisions.”

Later in the day, Air Canada President and CEO Michael Rosseau issued a statement regarding the federal government’s long-awaited relief package for AC, which was announced Monday night.

“As vaccine deployments ramp up, we continue to work with the Government of Canada on the evolution of safe and science-based test and quarantine relief measures with a view to safely restarting our sector,” said Rousseau.

It’s pretty certain that COVID-19 numbers will have to drop considerably, and vaccination rates continue to climb, for that to happen. But perhaps there’s a bit of hope on the horizon.