Canadian travel is set to take off this summer, triggered by greater vaccination rates and the release of pent-up demand, predicts credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings.
In a report released Thursday, the agency noted that air traffic recovery in Canada was slower at the beginning of the year than previously forecast, but believes recovery will be led by leisure travel this summer.
The agency said domestic-focused leisure carriers are better positioned to benefit from the early stages of the recovery, although competition will pressure airline yields into 2022. International gateways or those with a high reliance on business travellers will take longer to recover.
The agency predicts “a prolonged recovery for the air travel industry” overall, and cautions the level of rebound success will depend on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. It says uncertainties around vaccine rollouts, more contagious variants and travel restrictions may slow recovery in the near term.
Discussion Around Vaccine Passports at U.S.-Canada Border “Critical”
One of the variables affecting the pace of restarting international travel is the possibility of requiring vaccination passports to cross borders. One industry observer cautions that before there is any kind of travel rebound for Canadians, “critical” conversations need to take place regarding such documents along the shared Canada-U.S. border because of the high level of traffic.
“Any discussions with the United States will be critical. They’re not only our key trading partner, it’s the busiest border and it’s the border that Canadians are most likely to cross,” Nik Nanos, founder of Nanos Research, tells CTVNews’ Trend Line podcast.
Nanos explained that a cohesive strategy between Canadian and U.S. officials will be key to keep non-essential traffic at Canada’s land crossings running smoothly.
“The last thing we want are horror stories at the border, where people’s paperwork isn’t in place and that we’re not synced up with the key countries Canadians travel to,” said Nanos.
Nanos suspects the Canadian government is taking a cautious stance with regard to vaccine passports to prevent a “have and have-not” situation as vaccination doses are still limited in Canada.