- The Government of Canada has issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to China.
- In response to this, Air Canada has suspended all direct flights between China and Canada.
- Air Canada flights will not be operating out of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal to Shanghai or Beijing until the end of February.
The Government of Canada has issued a travel advisory for China due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus. The advisory tells Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to China and to avoid all travel to Hubei Province, which includes the city of Wuhan where the virus is suspected to have originated. In response to this, Air Canada has suspended all direct flights between China and Montreal.
Air Canada also runs direct flights from Toronto and Vancouver, which will also be suspended at this time.
As per Air Canada's press release, direct flights from Canada to China usually land in either Beijing or Shanghai. The last flights departing Canada left yesterday, January 29, and the final incoming flights will land today, January 30.
As of now, this temporary suspension is expected to last the entire month of February, effective January 30, meaning Air Canada will be not be running direct flights between China and Canada for over 4 weeks.
And while "Air Canada regrets this situation and apologizes for the serious disruption to our customers' travel plans," many customers have taken to Twitter to share their frustration and confusion.
The release from Air Canada states that "affected customers will be notified and offered options, including travel on other carriers where available, or a full refund."
Air Canada Suspends Flights to Beijing, Shanghai: https://t.co/TUyvgtHEpi // Air Canada suspend ses vols à destina… https://t.co/5zVTHQqPRE— Air Canada (@Air Canada) 1580327556.0
However, reactions on Twitter have proven that many customers are still feeling very much in the dark.
The tweet above, which was sent out just before 3 p.m. on January 29, 2020, has received over 100 comments, mostly from concerned passengers who seem to have had no luck speaking with Air Canada's customer service.
@AirCanada There is no notification regarding the existing booking or next action plan. The customer support line o… https://t.co/bMQa8AaTaC— Lionel Li (@Lionel Li) 1580332790.0
@AirCanada My father is scheduled to fly back to Toronto from Shanghai on Feb 17. He has not been contacted by Air… https://t.co/x0cjBCIGl5— Adam S (@Adam S) 1580341837.0
While Air Canada may have a lot to deal with when it comes to cancelling hundreds of flights over the next four weeks, the anxiety of these passengers is palpable in their tweets.
@AirCanada Failed to reach Air Canada's customer service via phone neither in English nor Mandarin, neither the one… https://t.co/rI7QVbUclE— 超级无敌豆小豆 (@超级无敌豆小豆) 1580343652.0
For many, the answer will inevitably be a refund. However, it's the passengers who are currently in China with flights booked to come back to Canada that are most perturbed by the news that their pending flights have now been suspended.
@Vet871 @AirCanada Hey, you're not the only one stuck in China. They just announced this, just stay calm and give t… https://t.co/IBpGHp1UBT— Derek (@Derek) 1580348712.0
The exchange above says it all. While it's clear that passengers are starting to panic, Air Canada is going to need some time to figure out how exactly they are going to move forward.
For now, we can be grateful that they are trying to keep as many people safe as possible, despite that likely resulting in a financial loss for the company.
@AirCanada Thank you for valuing Canadian lives over profit this temporary month https://t.co/eBjslD8tKN— Sushiboy (@Sushiboy) 1580332569.0
Air Canada notes it will "continue to monitor this evolving situation closely in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada and Global Affairs and will adjust its schedule as appropriate."
We will keep you posted if anything changes.