Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the federal government’s new pandemic-related travel measures add an extra sense of urgency to aid the hard-hit airline sector.

“The airline industry has been hit the hardest,” Alghabra said in an interview on Monday. “I know almost every industry has been hit by COVID, but the airline industry has lost close to 90 per cent of its customers and it’s caused a lot of financial burden.”

“We’re well aware of the extra pressure that this will to continue to add on the airline sector and we believe in a strong, resilient airline sector because it’s in the best interests of Canada and Canadians,” he added.

In efforts to curb new variants of COVID-19 like those discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that all Canadians returning from abroad will be required to quarantine in an approved hotel for three days at their own expense while results from a COVID-19 test they will have taken at the airport of their arrival are processed.

The Prime Minister added that the estimated cost of this policy would be $2,000 for each traveller.

In addition to the quarantine measures, Trudeau announced that Air Canada, WestJet Airlines Ltd., Sunwing Airlines Inc., and Air Transat would suspend service to all “sun destinations” including the Caribbean and Mexico starting Sunday until at least April 30. As part of the policy, all international passenger flights are being limited to just four Canadian airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

Alghabra reiterated Monday that the federal government agreed last November on supports for the airline industry, and added that the measures announced on Friday were agreed to by the airlines voluntarily. He also repeated his call for all Canadians to halt all non-essential travel, not just those with travel plans to warmer climes.

He assured the airline sector that the federal government has not forgotten about it.

“I know there’s a lot of anxiety,” Alghabra said. “There’s a lot of fear about the future and we’ve seen dramatic reductions.”

“I hear them, and we’re working on it as quickly as we can.”