The optimism that prevailed among airlines at the beginning of the summer has turned to pragmatism as they cancel flights in the face of lower demand than expected. According to the flight data firm Cirium, Air Canada and WestJet have cancelled 439 future flights as they consolidate partly filled aircraft to save money. As a result, many passengers’ itineraries have been dramatically changed, particularly on sun destination flights, which sometimes only operate once or twice a week.
Cirium spokesman Mike Malik told the CBC that while airlines are constantly juggling schedules, the COVID pandemic has created unprecedented uncertainty. “Sometimes airline schedules require minor surgery and sometimes major surgery,” said Malik. One saving grace is that those traveling these days tend to be tourists rather than business flyers, who tend to want more predictability in their schedule. But the impact on some non-business passengers has been considerable. The CBC found two destination weddings that have been affected and one has been cancelled because of the schedule change, costing the bride and groom $15,000 and their guests $2,800 each. Another beach wedding has $37,000 in travel at stake as the bride, groom and guests find a day that works for them and the airline.