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WestJet to suspend scheduled international flights

FILE. WestJet.
Image Credit: Westjet

WestJet announced Monday night that it will suspend scheduled commercial operations for all international and transborder flights for a 30 day period, starting March 22.

"To be clear, this means our final commercially scheduled flights from international and transborder destinations will launch on Sunday night by 11:59 p.m. local time; after that, we will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government," Ed Sims, WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer said in a statement posted to the WestJet website.

"As of tonight, international and transborder tickets are no longer available for sale during this 30 day period."

On Wednesday, March 18 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, WestJet will suspend all outbound international ticket sales for travel until Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, so they "are no longer sending Canadians out of the country and can instead focus on bringing them home."

To assist Canadians in returning home on short notice, Sims said WestJet is in the process of lowering prices on its remaining seats into Canada in all cabins. 

In addition, Sims said the airline will also reduce its domestic schedule by approximately 50 per cent. At this point, all network changes are in place for the next 30 days. 

"WestJetters are known for our level of care and this situation is no different," Sims said. "While this is a difficult time, we now have the responsibility as a Canadian airline to bring our citizens home."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced, March 16, that Canada would be closing its borders to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, other than U.S. citizens, air crews, diplomats and immediate family members of Canadian citizens.

Air operators will be formally mandated to prevent all travellers who present symptoms of Covid-19 to board a plane. Air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every air traveller based on guidance from the public health agency of Canada.

"This means that anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada," he said. I know this news will spark concern among Canadians travelling abroad. I want to assure you that our government will not leave you unsupported."

"To help asymptomatic Canadians return home, our government will set up a support program for Canadians who need to get on a plane. Canadian travellers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home, or temporarily covering their basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada."

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