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Air Canada puts all Rouge flights on hiatus

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Air Canada is putting all Rouge flights on hold as a result of new travel rules brought in by the government last week to scale back non-essential travel even more.

The rules targeted flights to sun destinations in the Caribbean, and most Air Canada flights to that area are operated by Rouge.

“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,” the airline told CBC News in a statement late Wednesday.

The last Rouge flight is scheduled to run on Feb. 8. After that, there will be no further Rouge flights anywhere until further notice.

The airline said the decision will mean that about 80 people will be placed on temporary layoff.

“Rouge remains a part of Air Canada’s overall business strategy,” the airline said.

Prof. Fred Lazar of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto said the move is just another body blow to an airline industry that can’t afford it.

“I’m not surprised, but disappointed,” he said of the news in an interview. 

“There is almost no place they can travel these days,” Lazar said, because government rules have systematically reined in every way the airlines have come up with to stay in business through the pandemic.

He said travel is being unfairly targeted as a way of deflecting attention from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is behind schedule and well behind the pace of other countries.

Running out of options

“There is no real logic to what they are doing,” he said. “They are doing it to cater to the vast majority of Canadians that have a holier than thou attitude toward travel.”

While the airline stressed that suspension is only temporary, Lazar said the industry is running out of options.

“The only hope is the European market opens up by the spring. Otherwise they’re out of operation pretty much for the rest of the year,” he said.

“I’m disappointed that they have to lose their jobs again because of the policies introduced by the government.”

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