An Air Canada check-in area is shown at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Saturday, May 16, 2020. Air Canada says it is bolstering its summer schedule, which nonetheless remains more than 50 per cent smaller than last year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pound the airline industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Major Canadian airlines saw a 44 per cent drop in the number of passengers they carried in March 2020, compared to the same month the year prior.

According to figures released by Statistics Canada Monday, 4.3 million people flew in March – the “largest decline ever recorded in the monthly civil aviation statistics.” In March 2019, 7.7 million people flew on Canadian airlines.

Many Canadian airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, have scaled back their operations by up to 90 per cent. Those airlines, and some others, have switched to cargo flights for essential supplies and repatriation flights to get Canadians stuck abroad back home.

The airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada closed its borders to most countries on March 16, and then halted all non-essential travel to and from the U.S. on March 21.

Outside of the summer months, passenger counts typically sit between six and seven million people for all months except November 2017, which saw 5.8 million people fly on Canadian airlines. In March, passenger counts typically top eight million although that is unlikely to happen in 2020 with some international travel restrictions likely to remain in effect. Restriction on U.S. travel will be considered on a month-to-month basis, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Currently, the ban on non-essential travel is in place until June 21.

READ MORE: Canada–U.S. border to stay closed to non-essential travel until June 21: Trudeau

In a news release, Air Canada said it would be offering 97 destinations this summer, down from its usual 220. The airline said it would resume service to the U.S. by Monday, including New York-LaGuardia, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. However, the list of U.S. destinations remain down from 53 offered during the summer of 2019.

Internationally, the airline said it will offer flights to places like London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul from Vancouver, and to other European cities from Toronto and Montreal.

READ MORE: Air Canada revises refund policy amid growing anger over cancelled flights


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Air TravelCanadaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police probe reports that fire alarm didn’t sound during fatal Prince George motel blaze

A suspect was also arrested, but later released pending further investigation

Two arrested after shots fired complaint Monday night at Tyee Lake

Saunderson said RCMP immediately responded and located the suspect vehicle leaving the area

Quesnel RCMP, Search and Rescue respond to paddlers capsized in Quesnel River

A kayaker and canoer ended up in the fast flowing water just after launching

Integra Tire moving commercial shop to Glendale

Renovations of former grocery store underway

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Most Read