Despite ongoing behind-the-scenes discussions between Air Canada and the federal government on eventual plans for the resumption of travel, CEO Michael Rousseau spoke out strongly against Ottawa’s restrictions during a Q1 analyst call.
Rousseau didn’t mince words saying the hotel quarantine program has been undermined by travellers who opt for fines. It “has proven ineffective,” Rousseau stated. “It should be eliminated.”
The much criticized approach has reduced Canadian air travel to a trickle. Average passenger traffic at the largest Canadian airports’ in April was 8 per cent of 2019 levels.
Not surprisingly, as Open Jaw reported on Friday, first-quarter results included an 80 per cent revenue decline from the same period in 2020.
However, the carrier now finds itself flush with bailout funds of $5.9B. That means both domestic and international operations need to ramp up quickly which can’t happen with closed borders and slow vaccinations.
As reported by the Globe and Mail, Mr. Rousseau pointed to the rise in air travel in the U.S. and Britain, which is easing international travel restrictions on May 17.
There’s a certain desperation in the messaging. A warning that taxpayers’ money will not be used to restart the industry if airlines’ wings remain tied.