Struggling airline industry anxiously braces for potential travel restrictions
MONTREAL -- The airline industry is unhappy after comments from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Francois Legault regarding non-essential travel, as there could be stricter measures on the horizon.
"We're down to zero," said Westmount Travel president Tony Fragapane. "We were the fourth largest travel agency in Quebec. We now sell basically nothing. If I get one call a week I'm lucky.
Off We Go is a small Quebec-based airline that launched in July. During the pandemic, they've offered one international flight per week to Cuba, but Friday will be the final one as they've pressed pause on their international service.
"There's a lot of insecurities regarding the travellers they don't know exactly what is required from them and the same goes for the airline so I guess it's the safest solution now," said president Marco Prud'homme.
Fragapane said he's travelled three times since March including a trip to Florida.
Legault worries people like him could bring COVID-19 home with them and Ottawa is discouraging people from travelling and is considering new constrictions.
Some travellers feel, however, that stricter measures are necessary.
"I think clamping down is not comfortable but I think at some point we got to stem the bleeding of this pandemic," said Simon Lemay, who just returned from Singapore where he worked for a year.
Aviation expert John Gradek said, however, that if Ottawa does ban non-essential international travel, it could prove disastrous for airlines.
"Air Canada is going to be getting somewhere around only about 30 per cent of the revenues it's getting today if those international flights are cancelled," said Gradek. "How do you sort out essential vs non-essential? And who decides what's essential vs non-essential?"