Canada | Cold cancels more flights than COVID-19

(Calgary) As elsewhere in the world, Canadian travelers have had to deal with flight delays and cancellations in recent days. However, unlike the US and Europe, the main reason for these cancellations will not be COVID-19, but cold weather.

Amanda Stevenson
Canadian Press

This was announced by major Canadian airlines, which canceled hundreds of flights between December 22 and December 26.

According to airline data company Cirium, Flair Airlines has canceled 9% of its scheduled flights for this period, while WestJet has grounded 7% of its scheduled flights.

On the Air Canada side, 4% of flights were canceled.

The holiday season has also brought its share of cancellations among US airlines. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have clarified that they have not been able to take off certain aircraft due to staff shortages associated with the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

But north of the border, weather is the cause of this wave of cancellations. Cold weather and heavy snow in the west of the country prevented several planes from taking off.

The past few days have been some of the busiest since the start of the pandemic. We receive approximately 50,000 passengers per day on nearly 500 flights.

WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell in an email

We do not have the same problems as in the United States. Most of our cancellations are related to adverse weather conditions. ”

Freezing temperatures and arctic air cooled most western counties this week, with wind chills dropping to -55 degrees Celsius.

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Environment Canada has indicated that nearly all of Alberta, British Columbia, and parts of Manitoba and Ontario are subject to severe cold warnings.

Air Canada, which grounded 171 flights between December 22 and December 26, said weather was the main reason for the cancellations.

“We have the manpower needed to meet our schedule, because COVID-19 has not affected us as much as some other airlines,” the company confirmed in a statement.

Porter Airlines spokesman Brad Cicero said the company’s operations went smoothly last week, but he acknowledged that some planes were unable to take off due to a staff shortage.

Flair Airlines has also seen an increase in the number of sick leave absences requested by its employees, but the company notes that this increase occurs every year.

“Right now, our biggest issue, which is probably the same for all companies, is that fluctuations in demand during the pandemic have caused workforce shortages on the ground and at airports,” said Matthew Koons, Vice President of Operations for Flyer Airlines.

On the Air Transat side, “no cancellation” is expected due to the lack of personnel associated with the Omicron variant at the moment, company spokesperson Pierre Tessier confirmed. Tayseer added that no flights were suspended for this reason.

Several Canadian airlines have noted that travelers have canceled their travel plans due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, but they continue to receive new bookings.

The federal government is requiring Air Canada employees, as well as passengers departing from Canadian airports, to be fully immunized against COVID-19.

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Information from the Associated Press

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