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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Canadian airlines to suspend flights to vacation destinations, including Costa Rica

Canadian airlines have agreed to suspend flights to “sun destinations” until May as part of the country’s coronavirus containment measures, according to numerous media reports.

Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Transat will cancel air service to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico from January 31 until April 30, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced.

“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19 both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” Trudeau said.

While the Canadian leader did not specifically refer to Central America, at least two airlines have indicated its Costa Rica flights are included in the cuts.

Air Canada lists its routes to the San José area (SJO) and Liberia (LIR) as “temporarily suspended from February 1 until April 30.”

WestJet has also confirmed it will suspend its routes to Liberia, Guanacaste, and Air Transat says it has paused normal operations until May.

“The government asked, and we agreed,” said Ed Sims, WestJet president, via a press release. The airline says it will “work to bring [its] guests already in destination back to Canada.”

Air Canada will also operate one-way flights to help repatriate Canadians who are aboard.

New quarantine requirement

In addition to pre-boarding testing already required, travelers returning to Canada will be given mandatory PCR testing upon arrival.

They will have to wait for those results at designated hotels for up to three days at their own expense, which Trudeau estimated will cost Can$2,000 ($1,600 US).

This new mandate will take effect “as soon as possible in the coming weeks.”

If returning Canadians test negative, they’ll be permitted to quarantine at home “under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement,” Trudeau said. Those with positive tests will be moved to a government quarantine facility.

Canada last March closed its borders to most non-essential travelers, and required incoming travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

But several provincial leaders have called on the federal government for stricter measures and enforcement after a recent spike in the number of Canadians taking winter vacations abroad.

Canadian tourism comprises about 7% of total international arrivals to Costa Rica, according to the Tourism Board.

This story was updated at 1:55 p.m. with further details about the quarantine process. If you have travel planned with a Canadian airline, we recommend contacting them for specific information about your flights. 

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