As its special flights operated in collaboration with the Government of Canada draw to an end, Air Canada today saluted hundreds of its employees who have worked to fly thousands of stranded Canadians home. The program, which began March 21, has repatriated approximately 6,600 Canadians from Morocco, Spain, Ecuador, Peru, Algeria, Argentina, and Colombia.
“Overnight, the COVID‑19 crisis struck the entire planet in unprecedented ways and thousands of our fellow Canadians found themselves stranded abroad as a result of the numerous restrictions quickly imposed by various governments,” said Ferio Pugliese, Senior Vice President, Air Canada Express and Government Relations at Air Canada.
“Heartfelt thanks must first be given to our crews, who agreed to be on the front lines to support these thousands of people eager to get home to be among their loved ones during these difficult times. The tireless efforts, dedication, compassion and professionalism of our employees on the ground and the terrific job they did expertly carrying out these complex, global operations have been nothing short of exemplary. Our customers and their families have shared with us their relief and feeling as if they were already home, once they boarded our flights, and we are proud to bring them back to Canada.”
In total, Air Canada operated 21 special flights using wide‑body aircraft in close cooperation with Global Affairs Canada. Air Canada remains available to operate additional special flights in collaboration with the federal government. The program to date has included:
- Seven flights from Lima
- Four flights from Quito
- Three flights from Casablanca
- Four flights from Algiers
- One flight from Barcelona
- One flight from Bogotá
- One flight from Buenos Aires
“Over the past few weeks, we have mounted one of the largest repatriation operations of Canadian travellers stranded abroad in the country’s history. All returning travellers are subject to a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days. We faced unprecedented obstacles, from airspace closures to tight travel restrictions,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Air Canada played a vital role in bringing thousands of our fellow Canadians home. I want to thank all those who worked day and night to make this major undertaking possible.”