Air Canada has extended the flight ban from India to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the federal government has not announced the same.
“We have further extended the suspension of our flights from India until June 22, we did this in anticipation of the existing suspension on flights between the two countries being extended” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
The flight ban from India and Pakistan was originally announced by the federal government April 22 and was set for 30 days. Air Canada does not operate flights to or from Pakistan.
Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Allison St. Jean said in a statement that, “the ministry is monitoring the COVID-19 situation in India and Pakistan closely and will determine next steps based on evidence and advice of public health experts, any recent decisions announced by Air Canada are operational and made on their own accord,”
The ban was initially set to protect Canada from the COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly in India. Canada has not identified the variant as a “variant of concern” yet but United Kingdom and the World Health Organization recently labeled it a variant of concern.
At the time the federal government first announced the ban, half of air travellers arriving in Canada that had tested positive for COVID-19 had come from India, even though only one-fifth of flights were from the country, according to Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
However, since the ban, it has been revealed that 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases from all Canadian air travel came from domestic flights, according to federal data.
Canada’s ban does not affect cargo flights and only applies to direct flights. Travellers from India can still enter the country indirectly, but they must present a negative COVID-19 test before departing for Canada. The India variant has already been detected in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.