Air Canada is suspending service on 30 regional routes and closing eight stations at smaller Canadian airports as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the travel industry.
The cuts, which reduce the flight options for travellers, come as a result of record-low travel demand amid ongoing border shutdowns and interprovincial restrictions, the carrier said.
“Provincial and federal government-imposed travel restrictions and border closures…are diminishing prospects for a near-to-mid-term recovery,” Air Canada said in a statement Tuesday.
The airline also plans to close its counters at four airports in Quebec, two in Ontario, one in New Brunswick and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Other changes to its network and schedule and further service suspensions will be considered over the coming weeks, Air Canada said.
The Montreal-based company laid off more than 20,000 workers – more than half of its staff – this month as part of a plan to cut costs.
The airline has removed 79 planes from its mainline and Rouge fleets, chopping flight capacity by more than 85 per cent year over year, with only marginal improvement expected in the critical summer travel season of July through September.
The changes come as some confinement measures lift and Canadians slowly begin to brave air travel again, though Manitoba and the Maritimes still have restrictions on interprovincial travel in place while other provinces discourage it.
On Tuesday, the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed that the government will extend until July 31 the travel ban that bars entry to travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended a seperate ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. until at least July 21.
Border shutdowns and record-low demand mean airlines around the world will lose US$84 billion this year and see a 50 per cent year-over-year revenue decline, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Air Canada is closing its stations at the these regional airports:
Baie Comeau, Que.
Mont Joli, Que.
Val d’Or, Que.
North Bay, Ont.