Air Canada to restart Australia flights, but only for fully vaccinated passengers

Qantas is not the only airline confident that international travel will resume in December, with Air Canada announcing it will restart its first Australian route - and vaccination will be mandatory.

The airline will fly Sydney-Vancouver four times a week with the first flight to Vancouver taking off on December 17.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Air Canada had regular non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Vancouver. Air Canada suspended its flights to Australia in April last year.

The airline will fly a 300-seat Boeing 777-200LR on the route, the second-largest aircraft in the carrier's fleet. Air Canada has previously flown Boeing 787 Dreamliners on its Melbourne and Brisbane routes.

The airline is offering flexible bookings on all fares, with either a full refund, an Air Canada Travel Voucher or the equivalent value in Aeroplan frequent flyer points with a 65 per cent bonus should the airline cancel or reschedule the by more than three hours.

Air Canada has a partnership with Virgin Australia, allowing passengers to earn frequent flyer and status points through Virgin's rewards program, Velocity.

Flights are likely to be far more expensive than pre-COVID-19, with a return flight departing Sydney on December 17 and returning three weeks like costing more than $3500. 

Qantas has also flagged its intention to start Sydney-Vancouver flights from December 20. Last week, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce reiterated that his airline would require passengers on international flights to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has announced the cancellation of dozens of flights to Australia for November and December, citing the Australian government caps on arrivals and the unlikelihood of a mooted travel bubble with Singapore. 

"As travel restrictions ease across the globe, we are committed to rebuild our international network and continue as a global carrier connecting the world with Canada. With Australians eager to travel again to Canada, we are ready to reunite customers with their families and friends," said Vic Naughton, general manager, Australia and New Zealand at Air Canada.

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Canada's government has introduced strict travel requirements for COVID-19. All passengers entering the country must be fully vaccinated (which also includes for domestic flights and train travel) with an approved vaccine. AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are all on Canada's approved list.

You must also provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before travelling. The information must be provided by the Canadian government's ArriveCAN app. You also must have "no signs or symptoms" of COVID-19 in order to be granted entry. (See the full details here on the Canadian government's travel site)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted earlier this month about the government's mandatory vaccination rules for travel.

To resume travel, he said "you need to know that the person sitting across the aisle from you will be fully vaccinated and that's what we're going to make sure".

Trudeau called a snap election for September 20, hoping to ride a wave of popularity over how his government has handled the COVID-19 outbreak. However, polls now put him slightly behind his rival, Conservative Party lead Erin O'Toole, who has been criticised for saying vaccination is a personal choice and should not be mandated.

See also: Don't want a vaccine passport? Don't expect to travel again, anywhere

See also: 'No problem at all': Expat Aussies embrace France's vaccine passport rules

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