WestJet cancels one in five February flights as Omicron takes toll on sector

WestJet cancels 1 in 5

WestJet Airlines is cutting 20 per cent of its February flights as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge.

The Calgary-based airline says the move marks a response to "government barriers" amid the Omicron variant, which has affected staffing levels.

The Public Health Agency of Canada advised against non-essential travel abroad in mid-December, while a requirement that international travellers quarantine until on-arrival molecular tests come back negative has further dissuaded visitors, the sector says.

WestJet's flight reductions follow an announcement on Dec. 30 that it would slash 15 per cent of its January trips, and also come after Transat A.T. cancelled nearly 30 per cent of its flights for January and February, with Air Canada nixing hundreds of flights as well.

WestJet interim CEO Harry Taylor says "cumbersome" travel rules are impacting Canadians and prolonging recovery of the airline and tourism industries, adding that aviation remains the only fully vaccinated transport sector and the most tested consumer activity in the country.

WestJet says it will notify affected travellers in the next few days.

For any WestJet-initiated cancellation or schedule change, where the change is greater than 90 minutes or one or more stops are added, guests are eligible for a refund.

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