WestJet Airlines Ltd. is preparing for an “immediate and dramatic” uptick in demand in the wake of the government of Canada’s decision to remove pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirements for vaccinated travellers.
Ottawa announced March 17 that as of April 1, travellers arriving in Canada by air, land or water from any country no longer have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to gain entry, as long as they’ve had at least two doses of an accepted vaccine.
The move comes after months of lobbying by the Canadian travel industry, which had argued that the requirement to seek out and pay for a rapid antigen test before boarding a flight home was an unnecessary barrier to family and business travel.
“Our view is that the desire to travel has remained throughout COVID, but it hasn’t translated into booking demand because of the restrictions that have been imposed on the industry,” said WestJet chief commercial officer John Weatherill in an interview Thursday.
In February, the federal government announced that double-vaccinated air and land travellers no longer need to present a negative result from a molecular test, such as a PCR test, before departure for Canada.
The government also lifted a mandatory self-isolation requirement for unvaccinated children under 12 returning to the country, as well as a blanket travel advisory against trips abroad.
Weatherill said WestJet has seen a dramatic jump in bookings as a result of these changes, meaning that March break is shaping up to be the airline’s busiest period since before the pandemic began.
– Canadian Press
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