Airlines have seen at the least 50,000 flight reservations cancelled for the reason that federal authorities launched necessary pre-departure COVID-19 testing for travellers returning to Canada.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra shared the determine, citing knowledge reported to Transport Canada by home airways and worldwide carriers that function flights to Canada.
“As part of the broader effort to prevent the spread of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has consistently advised Canadians to avoid non-essential international travel,” Amy Butcher, communications director for the minister, wrote in an electronic mail.
“On December 31, 2020, the government announced new pre-test requirements for passengers seeking to fly to Canada from other countries. Not surprisingly, this has led to a decline in future bookings.”
The new rule took impact on Jan. 7, 2021. It requires all travellers over the age of 5 to provide proof of a unfavorable COVID-19 take a look at end result taken not than 72 hours earlier than boarding a flight to Canada.
The federal authorities introduced the brand new testing regime following a number of stories of distinguished Canadians — together with political figures — travelling overseas for the vacations in defiance of presidency advisories towards non-essential journey.
The authorities was additionally going through strain on the time from premiers — primarily Ontario’s Doug Ford — to crack down on worldwide journey to scale back the chance of importing COVID-19 from different nations.
The requirement was unpopular with Canadian airways, which stated stated they weren’t consulted concerning the new coverage earlier than it was introduced. They lobbied unsuccessfully to delay the rollout by two weeks, which they argued was obligatory to make sure an orderly transition.
Travellers reported confusion and nervousness within the days following the testing requirement as many struggled to search out authentic laboratory assessments as a result of the federal government didn’t initially provide an inventory of places the place the assessments could possibly be obtained.
Five days after the implementation of the brand new rule, the federal authorities launched an internet site for passengers travelling to Canada that lists accredited testing websites in some nations.