Air Transat to suspend all trips from Toronto, some Montreal routes till April 30

In a move it blames on tighter restrictions imposed by Ottawa, Transat A.T. Inc. is halting all flights out of Toronto and some from Montreal for the remainder of the winter travel season.

The route cuts will begin Thursday and last until April 30, Transat spokeswoman Debbie Cabana said.

“Continued travel restrictions and the numerous measures imposed by the federal government, including the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test and to quarantine upon return to Canada, have had a significant impact on our bookings,” she said.

The cancelled routes in Toronto include flights to Cancun, Mexico, Holguin, Cuba, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Varadero, Cuba, Porto, Portugal and Lisbon, Portugal, Cabana said.

In addition to those flights, Cabana added that Transat is cancelling its flights from Montreal to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Varadero.

The airline notified travel agents of the cancellations in a memo Wednesday, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

Passengers who paid for their flight or vacation package with cash or credit card will receive a full refund. Passengers currently at their destinations will be rebooked on flights returning to Canada, the memo says.

Transat’s cancellations come just two weeks after Air Canada announced it would lay off 1,700 workers and cut more routes amid a challenging business environment for the aviation industry.

The federal government has cracked down on international travel in recent weeks, implementing a new requirement in January that all travellers seeking to enter Canada provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the federal government is contemplating further restrictions, prompted by the arrival of more contagious strains of COVID-19 in Canada from abroad.

Trudeau this past weekend reiterated his call for Canadians to cancel any vacations they may have booked, warning that people who travel abroad could face difficulties returning home.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has called on Ottawa to go further by banning non-essential travel completely or requiring that new entrants to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense. Similarly, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called for a temporary ban on flights to Canada from destinations where new variants of COVID-19 have been discovered.

Canada’s airlines have criticized the government’s travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic, arguing that the mandatory 14-day quarantine is overly strict and should be replaced with a testing program at airports.

This article first published here

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