WestJet announced today that it would continue canceling flights until the end of March, citing Canada’s ongoing mandatory Covid testing requirements. These reductions are a continuation of flight cancellations the airline announced last month. In January, Westjet announced a 20% flight reduction until the end of February 2022.
The company announced in a press release that the company continues to navigate ongoing uncertainty and barriers facing travel, and are thus announcing a further extension of its planned schedule consolidations through to March 31, 2022.
“For two years, WestJet has gone above and beyond to keep our guests safe throughout their travel journey,” said Harry Taylor, Interim President & CEO, The WestJet Group. “Travel advisories, restrictions and testing requirements were meant to be temporary, yet our industry has now reached an impasse that is severely impacting the recovery of our airline and sector. The time is now to present a path forward that is in line with our global counterparts, reflective of current data and once again makes travel accessible and affordable for Canadians.”
The press release went on to criticize Canada’s strict international travel requirements, stating that with duplicative PCR testing required for asymptomatic fully vaccinated travelers, air travel continues to be the most tested, yet most restricted consumer activity in Canada. WestJet continues to advocate for the need to return to surveillance arrivals testing only and the elimination of quarantine and isolation for travelers awaiting their results after returning to Canada. The airline is also calling on the federal government to outline a roadmap for the recovery of the travel and tourism industry that is based on science and reflective of the current realities of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Canada remains the only country among the G7 nations to still require mandatory pre-departure and on-arrival PCR testing,” Taylor continued. “Countries across the globe are recognizing the importance of travel and tourism on economic recovery and we are witnessing them take measures to safely re-open their borders and make sensible adjustments to overall travel guidance and testing requirements. It is disappointing that Canada remains stagnant in its approach and continues to make travel inaccessible and punitive for Canadians and inbound tourists.”
Westjet said that in line with previously announced schedule reductions, impacted travelers will be proactively notified of changes to their itineraries by email. Guests are encouraged to utilize self-serve options before calling for assistance; guests seeking support outside of the 72-hour travel window are able to schedule a call-back.
To provide guests with more flexibility and added peace of mind when booking their next flight, WestJet is extending its flexible change/cancel program until February 28, 2022.
“We understand travel plans may change and we know that flexibility is what our guests are looking for,” said John Weatherill, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer. “We want to ensure our guests can book with confidence, knowing if their plans change their flights can too.”
Guests can book travel through to February 28, 2022 with the following flexible change/cancel policy:
- All flights booked between March 3, 2020 and February 28, 2022 will be allowed a $0 one-time fee waiver for changes or cancellations
- Change or cancellation must be requested more than 24 hours from departure
- Value of canceled flights will be returned as a Travel Bank credit, valid for 24 months from the date the flight was cancelled
- If a guest changes their flight, the difference in fare applies. If the new fare is less, the difference will be returned as a Travel Bank credit
- For changes or cancellations within 24 hours of travel, standard change and cancel fee rules apply.
Air Canada and Transat also have also been reducing flights.