Canada’s largest airlines hit hard after the country suspends flights to Mexico and the Caribbean to curb COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 from San Francisco approaches for landing at Toronto Pearson International Airport over a parked Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2019.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 from San Francisco approaches for landing at Toronto Pearson International Airport over a parked Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Toronto

  • The four largest Canadian airlines agreed to suspend flights to Mexican and Caribbean destinations in response to the country’s ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the temporary ban will be effective starting January 31 till April 30.
  • As Air Canada fell 7.9% and hit its lowest point since November, Air Transat announced that it will suspend all operations.
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Some of Canada’s largest airlines – Air Canada, WestJet Airlines, Air Transat, and Sunwing – have agreed to temporarily suspend flights to Mexican and Caribbean destinations in response to the country’s ongoing COVID-19 concerns. 

On January 29, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the travel ban agreement will be effective starting January 31 till April 30.

Though complying with the country’s new guidelines, Canadian airlines have been hit hard in the pandemic. After Friday’s announcement, shares of Air Canada fell 7.9%, hitting the lowest point since November 13, before slightly rebounding, Bloomberg reported. WestJet already laid off up to 1,000 employees earlier this month and Air Transat announced on Friday that it will suspend all operations (not just flights to Mexico and the Carribbean). 

Several aviation industry experts described Trudeau’s imposed travel restrictions as a “nail in the coffin” for the airlines and tourism industry. A prolonged suspension to “sun destinations,” or warmer vacation spots where people tend to visit during the winter season, can put multiple companies at risk of bankruptcies, The Canadian Press reported. 

“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here, at home, and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” Trudeau said during a press event right outside his home in Ottawa. “By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time, when we can all plan those vacations.” 

According to Canada’s new international travel guidelines, visitors arriving in Canada must take a mandatory COVID-test at the airport. They also need to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for up to three days while they wait for test results. While people who tested positive are required to quarantine in designated government facilities, residents with negative results can complete their 2-week quarantine at home, CNN reported.

Despite being hit by the the restrictions, Canadian airlines insist on cooperating with the government to practice safety measures amid the global pandemic.

“Air Canada believes a collaborative approach with the Government of Canada involving all air carriers is the best means to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially given concerns around the variants of COVID- 19 and travel during the spring break period,” Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO at Air Canada, said in a press release. “Through consultation we have established an approach that will allow us to achieve an orderly reduction in service to these destinations that minimizes the impact on our customers and will support important public health goals to manage COVID-19.”  

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A Boeing 737 Max suffered a mid-air engine issue and was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Arizona

Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8
An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8.

  • An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max aircraft flying from Arizona to Montreal, Canada, was forced into an unscheduled landing because of an engine problem, the airline said Friday.
  • The aircraft was diverted soon after take off on December 22 when the crew received an “engine indication” and “decided to shut down one engine,” the airline said.
  • The three crew members were the only people on board.
  • Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded for 18 months following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people — although the engines were not implicated. Airlines began using them again in early December.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max aircraft was forced into an unscheduled landing in Tuscon, Arizona after the crew noticed a problem with an engine, the airline confirmed Friday.

The only people on board were three crew members, the airline said.

The aircraft was scheduled to fly from Arizona to Montreal, Canada, but was diverted soon after take off when the crew received an “engine indication” and “decided to shut down one engine,” the airline said.

“The aircraft then diverted to Tucson, where it landed normally and remains,” it said.

“Modern aircraft are designed to operate with one engine and our crews train for such operations,” the airline said.

Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded for 18 months following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people. Airlines began using the craft again in early December, starting in Brazil.

The two fatal crashes were put down to flaws in automated flight software, which caused the planes to nosedive. The engines were not blamed. Boeing has made a number of changes to the aircraft since the crashes, including to the flight control software. 

Belgian aviation news website Aviation24.be reported that the Air Canada crew discovered “left engine hydraulic low pressure” followed by “an indication of a fuel imbalance” from the left-hand wing.

The incident happened on December 22.

Airlines have been rushing to get the plane back in the air, take deliveries of delayed orders, and place new orders, despite customer skepticism.

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