International standardized proof of vaccine a welcome step in the safe reopening of Canada’s air borders

 Standardized proof of vaccine certificates will help revitalize air travel and tourism, but there are other actions that the government must take to further our goals of restoring full air access for all Canadians.

Ottawa ON, October 21, 2021   Canada’s airports were pleased to hear the Government of Canada’s update today on the implementation of an internationally-recognized, national, standardized proof of vaccination.  However, there are other issues that must be addressed if we are to restore air service quickly and safely, according to Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council.

With the holiday travel season only weeks away, it is critical that Canada restores international access to more airports. While 10 Canadian airports can now receive international flights, there are still about 20 airports with regular international flights prior to the pandemic that have  not yet been given permission by the government to reopen to international traffic.

“These airports’ international access serves Canadians in many ways,” said Mr. Gooch “Some provide direct access to major tourism destinations.  Others are regional gateways that open travel to more remote locations. Many of the smaller airports serve their communities with direct flights to sun destinations.  Unfortunately, since the government has not provided a timeframe to reinstate international flights to these airports, we have heard that several airlines that specialize in winter holiday travel are cancelling flights to the end of the year.”

Another issue is that some airports that offer U.S. pre-clearance are having bottleneck issues.

While U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has been slowly restoring pre-clearance resources at the eight Canadian airports that offer the service, our government must be ready to work with the United States to ensure these resources are restored to pre-pandemic levels to rebuild our connectivity, tourism, and trade with the U.S.,” said Mr. Gooch.

Finally, with both Canadian and foreign travellers required to be fully vaccinated within weeks, the government should begin to ease other restrictions. “As an example, the government can begin to remove the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers,” Mr. Gooch explained. “It adds to the cost and hassle of travel.”

To complicate this issue further, people entering Canada from the U.S. by air will require proof of a negative COVID test, but not people entering by the land border.  This could push Canadians to drive to a U.S. airport rather than fly out of Canada.

About the Canadian Airports Council

The Canadian Airports Council (CAC), a division of Airports Council International-North America, is the voice for Canada’s airports community. Its 54 members represent more than 100 airports, including all the privately operated National Airports System (NAS) airports and many municipal airports.

Canada’s locally managed and not for profit airports are essential community assets.  In 2019, they supported 194,000 direct jobs, contributed $19 billion to GDP and $48 billion in direct economic outputs. They also remitted $6.9 billion in taxes to municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

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Debra Ward