Canadian airlines suspend flights to Costa Rica until May

The agreement was announced by PM Justin Trudeau.

Air Canada and WestJet have committed to suspending flights to Costa Rica starting Sunday, January 31.

These cancellations aren’t specific to Costa Rica. The carriers will stop flying to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico until April 30 as a measure to reduce leisure travel and slow the spread of new coronavirus strains.

Air Canada lists its routes to Costa Rica as “temporarily suspended from February 1 until April 30.” WestJet has announced the same for its Costa Rica flights.

Sunwing and Air Transat have also agreed to cancel flights from Canada to the Caribbean and Mexico. Air Transat has already suspended “regular operations” until May. Non-Canadian airlines (e.g. United, Copa) may continue to operate routes that connect Costa Rica and Canada.

“We’re taking difficult measures now so that we can get through this quicker, so that we have less damage to our economy, our industries, to our workers, to our lives,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Travelers returning to Canada must obtain a negative PCR test result before flying.

Now, Trudeau says, they will also be tested on arrival in Canada and must quarantine at government-approved hotels while awaiting results. The hotel stay comes at the travelers’ own expense.

“Now is just not the time to be flying,” Trudeau said, explaining the new quarantine policy will take effect “as soon as possible in the coming weeks.”

To help ensure Canadians are not stranded abroad, Air Canada says it will operate one-way flights from affected destinations after January 31. WestJet has promised to “work to bring our guests already in destination back to Canada.”

Canada is one of Costa Rica’s largest tourism markets.

In 2019, Costa Rica received 219,000 air arrivals from Canada, more than any other country except the United States. February and March are typically two of the busiest months as Canucks escape the northern cold.

In December 2020, Costa Rica welcomed 4,452 Canadians.

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