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Mar 18, 2020

Air Canada slashes route network amid 'cataclysmic' virus fallout

Air Canada slashes service amid 'cataclysmic' virus fallout

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Canada’s largest air carrier is slashing its routes in the face of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

In response to the rapidly-spreading virus and subsequent travel restrictions as governments seal borders, Air Canada said it will limit transit and routes for the foreseeable future.

"The restrictions on travel imposed by governments worldwide, while understandable, are nonetheless having a cataclysmic effect upon the global airline industry,” Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a press release late Wednesday. “Our immediate focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees, customers and communities.”

The company will maintain six overseas routes to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Delhi, Tokyo and Hong Kong, reducing its international flight plans from 101 airports to six, from Apr. 1 until at least the end of the month.

Similarly, American destinations will drop to 13 from 53, with the remaining destinations being New York (Laguardia and Newark airports); Boston; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Houston; Seattle; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Denver; Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

And its domestic operations aren’t escaping unscathed. Air Canada said that it will slash its Canadian route network to 40 airports from 62 during April, while continuing to service all provinces and territories.

Shares of the company have been throttled by macroeconomic concerns surrounding the domestic economy, making Air Canada one of the lead laggards among the TSX composite index since February’s market peak.

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In spite of the turmoil, Air Canada said it remains committed to returning Canadians home and has no intention of halting the movement of essential goods.

“We are exploring with the Government of Canada possibilities to maintain essential operations to enable as many Canadians as possible to return to Canada, and to support other vital transport needs, including the shipment of goods and cargo during the crisis as required in any state of emergency.”