By Benjamin Pham
Air Canada Recommences Ties With India
The question of when to safely reopen Canada’s borders for certain international travelers remains a constant conversation amongst many world leaders during the ongoing Covid-19 ordeal. Many major airlines continue to monitor travel restrictions and must adjust their flight schedules and route network to adhere to the imposed entry restrictions. Domestic travel has been at the center of attention due to the reduction of international flights, and Air Canada is quickly resuming domestic operations at its hubs. However, with the prospect of borders reopening on the horizon, the carrier is rebuilding its long-haul route network.
Canada’s federal government recently lifted its lengthy travel ban on international flights to/from India and is instead opting to implement more enhanced COVID-19 screening procedures such as testing and vaccination documentation. In response to the termination of the ban, the prominent Star Alliance carrier announced flight resumptions from its hubs in Canada to its route network in India.
“People are eager to reunite with family and friends and we are very pleased to resume service immediately from India to our Toronto and Vancouver hubs following the lifting of restrictions by the Government of Canada,” Mark Galardo, Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Revenue Management at Air Canada, said.“We continue to be focused on the growing visiting friends and relatives market, and together with the long-standing cultural and business ties between Canada and India which are expected to grow over the coming years, Air Canada remains strongly committed to this important Asia-Pacific market.”
The Montreal, QC-based carrier resumed flights from Toronto and Vancouver to New Delhi and plans to eventually inaugurate service from Montreal this fall. Flights to Mumbai are expected to be scheduled soon for the upcoming, seasonal holiday travel time frame.
In light of Canada’s federal government lifting restrictions, the airline plans to require its passengers to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The test must be completed at an approved laboratory, within 18 hours of departing India.
Air Canada is not the sole carrier to recently recommence flights to India, as Air India – one of Air Canada’s partners in the Star Alliance – plans to resume its daily flights from Toronto to New Delhi on Sept. 30, while flights from Vancouver to the Indian capital will recommence on Oct.1, operating three times a week.
Both carriers, who have simultaneously restarted flights, play a significant role in strengthening the partnership between them and the cultural relations between the two nations. In addition, both airlines have the opportunity to attract as much of the remaining passenger demand for the market in Asia.
Clearly, Air Canada is contributing to the country’s efforts to reopen its borders to a larger number of countries through its long-haul flight operations. The return of the airline’s operations in India is in stark contrast to its domestic flight recommencements from its hubs. It is undeniable that long-haul travel was significantly impacted due to the effects of COVID-19. However, the Canadian flag carrier is en route to returning long-haul operations to Asia, featuring India.