Thursday,  March 4, 2021  4:52 am

Air Canada pauses Rouge operations, cuts 80 employees

Air Canada pauses Rouge operations, cuts 80 employees
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Air Canada is pausing its Rouge operations due to the federal government’s request to suspend service to sand and sun destinations.

“As a result of our suspension of all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico at the request of the Canadian government, we are again pausing our Rouge operations effective Feb. 8 as these flights are primarily operated by Rouge,” said Air Canada in a statement, as reported by CTV News.

This latest move will reportedly lay off 80 Rouge employees.

The subsidiary of Air Canada previously expanded its network to offer more vacation destinations. Rouge was suspended last year, but restarted in November 2020 for the winter travel season.

At the time, Mark Galardo, vice-president, network planning and alliances at Air Canada, said Rouge was “an important part of our overall strategy in rebuilding Air Canada's global network.”

The circumstances are different, now, as Canada moves to strengthen its international travel rules in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19 and other variants of the virus.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat would be suspending service to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30.

READ MORE: Flights to sun destinations suspended until Apr. 30; mandatory hotel quarantine confirmed

The groundings took effect last Sunday (Jan. 31) and airlines, since then, have been operating northbound return flights to get customers back to Canada.

Additionally, mandatory PCR testing will soon be introduced at airports (Toronto Pearson airport is already doing it, as per Ontario Premier Doug Ford's request).

Furthermore, all international arrivals will have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for test results at their own expense, which is expected to cost upwards of $2,000, Trudeau said.

The official start date of the restrictions has yet to be revealed, although federal officials are telling travellers to prepare for sooner rather than later.

“We will keep the measures in place for as long as needed to ensure the safety of Canadians,” Trudeau told reporters earlier this week.

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