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WestJet, Air Canada suspend international flights after Trudeau's COVID-19 announcement

- Reuters

Some major airlines are suspending international and transborder commercial flights after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians to return home amid the unfolding COVID-19 situation. 

Starting March 23, WestJet announced in a news release, it will be suspending scheduled commercial operations for all international and transborder flights for 30 days. 

"To be clear, this means our final commercially schedules flights from international and transborder destinations will launch on Sunday night by local time; after that, we will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government," Ed Sims, president and CEO of WestJet, said in a statement posted to its website. 

International and transborder tickets will not be for sale during the 30-day period. 

Starting Wednesday, WestJet will suspend all outbound international ticket sales for travel until March 23 "so we are no longer sending Canadians out of the country and can instead focus on bringing them home.

"To assist Canadians in returning home on short notice, we are in the process of lowering prices on our remaining seats into Canada in all cabins," Sims said. 

The airline's domestic schedule will also be reduced by 50 per cent for the next 30 days. 

Air Canada is also suspending several outbound international flights. 

Season routes such as Toronto to Barcelona and Toronto to Budapest have been delayed to the beginning of April or May, while new route launches have been postponed to June. Some flights have been temporarily suspended for a period of time, ranging from a week to a couple of months. 

All Air Canada flights to China has been suspended until April 30. 

"Air Canada will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada and Global Affairs and will adjust its schedule as appropriate," the airline posted on its website with a list of affected routes

Porter Airlines is waiving all change and cancellation fees for domestic and international bookings "to give all travellers peace of mind." 


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