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Air Canada Retracts on Routes and Employees as Borders Remain Closed

Air Canada will lay off 1,500 workers and cut 17 routes until April 2021, as demand for international travel remains limited. Markets affected include three American cities as well as destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

With the Canadian government not making a move to bail out their airlines, Air Canada will cut 17 international routes and reduce their workforce by over 1,500 employees due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. AFP reports the Montreal-based airline will cancel flights from three of their major airports to destinations in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Cities Cut Include Boston, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The plans call for a total of 17 city pairings to be temporarily cut from service from three of their major airports: Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The four American cities to be cut include Boston, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Other long-haul routes are also expected to be phased out in the coming days. Other international destinations expected to be cut include Bogota, Dubai, Tel Aviv, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT).

The cuts will also take an employee toll within the airline. In addition to the 20,000 jobs the airline cut, 1,500 more employees will be laid off, alongside an “undetermined number of managers.”

The cuts come as tensions continue to rise between the Canadian aviation industry and the Ottawa-based federal government. The airlines have been pressuring leaders to provide a bailout package similar to what the U.S.-based carriers received from Washington. In November 2020, the Canadian transport minister said there would need to be other concessions before a support plan would be considered, including getting refunds to flyers with cancelled flights.

However, a bailout may not be completely out of the picture. The Financial Post reports Canadian vacation carrier Sunwing Airlines received an emergency loan from the government valued at around $295 million ($375 million CAD).

Cuts Come as Canada Issues Tougher COVID-19 Restrictions

Air Canada’s retraction comes as the government is issuing additional restrictions on travelers heading to the nation. USA Today reports returning Canadian travelers must now have a COVID-19 test prior to arrival, or face a fine around $1,864 ($2,370 CAD), while stopping all airline service to Mexico and the Caribbean islands through April 30, 2021. Non-Canadians who are not traveling for an essential reason are not allowed to enter the nation.