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

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

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

The ban is only applicable to ICI cardboard and does not extend to residential cardboard. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
RDBN to reinstate ICI cardboard ban at Knockholt Landfill starting Dec. 6

Private bailing facility to take the cardboard starting next year

Village (Priyanka Ketkar photo)
Who’s getting paid how much in the Village of Burns Lake?

The 2019 Schedule of Employee Remuneration and Expenses report is out

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

BCHL
BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read