WestJet joins airline and tourism businesses in calling for government to encourage travel
WestJet, along with about 150 other travel and tourism companies, is calling on the federal and provincial governments to encourage travel once again. (File photo)
CALGARY -- It's time to travel.
That's the message from WestJet, the Calgary Airport Authority and about 150 tourism and air travel companies in an open letter to the prime minister and all premiers.
"Just like we are reopening the front doors of our homes and businesses, we need to reopen the doors of our provinces, territories – and our country," it reads.
"The Canadian travel, tourism and hospitality sector employs 1.8 million people and contributes $102 billion to our economy. It relies on the summer season to survive. As Canadians, we wait all year to travel during the summer.”
The letters adds that many of the travel restrictions currently in place are simply too broad or unnecessary and limitations on inter-provincial travel should be removed.
As for international travel, the letter says, “the mandatory 14-day quarantine and complete closure of our country to all visitors from abroad is no longer necessary and is out of step with other countries across the globe.”
Provinces have implemented unique travel restrictions as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including discouraging non-essential travel by non-residents.
Canadians who travel internationally are currently expected to quarantine for a 14-day-period, including if travel originated in the United States.
“We support the letter and request that all levels of government work together to streamline and clarify rules around travel in order to ensure safe, accessible and timely travel for Canadians this summer,” said Reid Fiest, spokesperson for the Calgary Airport Authority.
Fiest also provided CTV News flight data showing the current average daily air travel guest count is down by 65 per cent from 2019 levels.
As for WestJet, in a release sent Thursday, it called for provincial and federal governments to urgently address “the patchwork of domestic quarantine periods, as well as standardize intra-provincial travel advice.”
The carrier also says it has spent millions to ensure flight safety and has released YouTube clips demonstrating additional personal protective equipment, sanitization, seat separation and the addition of temperature taking upon check in — all efforts to encourage a safe return for summer travel.
“(WestJet) is in the process of updating its schedule for peak summer travel taking into account demand and various provincial restrictions," said Morgan Bell, spokesperson for the airline.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed travel during his Friday briefing.
“We've also worked with airlines and airports on standards they should have in place, whether that's enhanced cleaning or putting distancing measures as people wait in line,” he said.
Trudeau announced that passengers travelling to, from and within the country will be screened for temperature and anyone with a fever will not be permitted to board a plane.
When reporters asked about questions surrounding science behind thermal screening at airports to contain the spread of the coronavirus, he said, “it is not the one sure-fire way of keeping Canadians safe. I absolutely agree obviously with the science on that. But it is a measure that we can move forward with, in addition to other measures that can be effective at making sure that Canadians are kept safer.”