WestJet is blaming the federal government’s sudden requirement for airline passengers arriving in Canada to have negative COVID-19 tests for the slashing of its schedule and job cuts affecting 1,000 employees this week. The airline cut about a third of its already-pared schedule with CEO Ed Sims blaming “instability in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions.” The government announced the forthcoming new requirement at the end of 2020 and Sims said it immediately resulted in a drop in bookings and “unprecedented” cancellations on international flights.
The new measure is “another layer” in the government’s COVID travel restrictions and those who show the negative tests will still have to undergo the 14 days of self quarantine required of international travelers. “The entire travel industry and its customers are again on the receiving end of incoherent and inconsistent government policy,” Sims said. Most of the flights cancelled are to sun destinations and the job impacts range from cuts in hours to furloughs and layoffs. The airline is now operating about 150 flights a day, about the same as it did in 2001.