Air Canada wants federal authorities to take ‘science-based’ approach and relax travel restrictions

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Air Canada is asking the Canadian government to ease some of its travel restrictions which it says affect its “overall recovery”.In an open letter posted on the airline’s website, the chief medical officer, Dr. Jim Chung, requests that general restrictions and quarantines be replaced by “more proportionate” restrictions to control the spread of the virus, ultimately resulting in a “measured restart of aviation”.

The letter points to other G20 countries that have already authorized more travel – including Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal – and a report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which suggests “evidence-based, reasonable alternatives” which would replace the 14-day quarantine requirement for any traveler entering the country from abroad.

“Suffice it to say that the situation is becoming more and more urgent,” wrote Dr. Chung. “Canada has made virtually no changes to its quarantine restrictions since mid-March, despite continued improvements containing the spread of the virus in our country and many others.”

He says the restrictions severely affect Air Canada and its staff while the IATA report suggests there is little evidence of in-flight transmission, citing an informal investigation of 18 major airlines in early 2020. He said identified four cases of suspected in-flight transmission, all from passenger to crew, and four other episodes of apparent pilot-to-pilot transmission, stating “no suspected passenger-to-passenger transmission reported by the airline group”.

The Canada Quarantine Act states that the government must act to determine that “no reasonable alternative to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease is available”, by which Chung points to the processes adopted by the United Kingdom. United and the European Union.

The EU, which previously suspended free movement agreements between member states, has now adopted a “gradual and coordinated” approach to border crossings and has recommendations on limiting contact between passengers and transport workers, the use of personal protective equipment when traveling, as well as individual recommendations for traveling by plane, train, road and inland waterways.

Chung said that, given the high rate of infection, the company is not currently asking for easing of restrictions at the US border.

Since the start of the pandemic, the airline has announced that changes in the economic situation have led it to lay off up to 60% of its workforce.

In a statement to Daily Hive at the time, Air Canada said that the situation “forced us to cut our schedule by 95% and, according to each indicator we have, our normal traffic levels will not come back any time soon.”

In a report released in May by IATA, the organization said it predicted that the global number of air passengers would not return to normal until at least 2023.

With files from Emily Rumball

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