Canada’s airlines say border testing could cause confusion for airlines, passengers
|Toronto Star 31 Dec 2020 at 15:48|
MONTREAL - The National Airlines Council of Canada said there are still major issues that need to be addressed as Ottawa plans a COVID-19 testing requirement for air passengers arriving from abroad.
Government officials said Wednesday that in order to enter Canada, international travellers would soon have to provide negative results from a COVID-19 test taken at least 72 hours prior to departure.
Mike McNaney, the group’s president and CEO, says clarity is needed regarding the format in which passengers must present their testing results and passengers’ options if their jurisdiction does not offer the kind of test the government accepts.
“We fully support testing and the implementation of a testing strategy and regime,” McNaney said. “But the objective is to do it in a consistent and thorough fashion, and to tie it to quarantine measures.”
The National Airlines Council of Canada is an industry group that represents the country’s major carriers, including Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet.
McNaney added that the lack of consultation with airlines on the new measures risks creating confusion for airlines, passengers and front-line government workers trying to enforce the rules.
McNaney’s comments come as the federal government is expected to announce more details of the testing requirement Thursday.
Along with requests for financial assistance, industry groups representing airlines and airports have called on the government to replace the mandatory 14-day quarantine for international travellers with a program that tests airline passengers on arrival in Canada.
However, the measures announced yesterday would not replace the quarantine period, government officials said.
Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, said that although the group approved of testing international travellers, he was concerned that the testing requirement coupled with the 14-day quarantine was overly restrictive for passengers.
On Thursday afternoon, Unifor, a trade union that represents 300,000 airline workers, renewed its call for government assistance for the airline sector in light of the new testing requirement.
“Yesterday’s announcement is important to protect the public safety of all Canadians, but at the same time, the federal government’s continued refusal to provide adequate financial support for the 300,000 airline workers puts the very future of Canada’s airline industry in jeopardy,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president.