Following moves by several European countries, Canada is also banning flights from the UK as a precaution against a new and more contagious strain of coronavirus reported there.
The news came via a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Transport Canada on December 20th, and will be effective from December 21st midnight
and will last for 72 hours. After this initial period, the prohibition may be extended or enhanced.
According to the order Issued late in the evening of December 20th by Canadian civil aviation regular Transport Canada, the NOTAM prohibits all commercial, private, and charter flights transporting passengers from the UK and reads as follows:
“It is necessary for aviation safety and the protection of the public, to prohibit the ops of commercial air svc conducting sked and non sked international svc from the United Kingdom for the transport of passengers on an inbound flight to Canada. This further extends to all private and charter flights.”
It goes on to list the following exemptions:
- Cargo flights
- Technical stops, where no passengers disembark
- Aircraft safety situations
- Special authorizations granted by Transport Canada
CBC reported that, over the past week, at least 10 nonstop flights departed from London airports and arrived in Toronto, while there were four to Montreal, and two to Vancouver. Some of these flights continued on to other destinations, including Calgary and Edmonton.
Canada’s Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, issued the following statement via Twitter:
The minister added: “We are taking this important action to protect Canadians and to keep our communities safe. These measures have been imposed following advice from public health officials. The restrictions will initially be in place for 72 hrs, after which time they could be extended or enhanced.”
Air Canada said that it will be temporarily suspending all flights between Canada and London Heathrow Airport as of Monday. The two final flights will be departing from Toronto and from Vancouver today.
“We regret the impact of the government directive to immediately suspend flights on our customers’ travel plans in the middle of the holiday season and will continue to monitor this dynamic situation closely and adjust the schedule as appropriate,” -Air Canada
With its flights canceled, affected customers will be notified by the airline and offered options, including travel on other carriers or over other gateways where available.
Air Canada currently operates direct flights to London Heathrow from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.