Domestic COVID flights increased in Canada from April to May

While International flights carrying COVID-19 infected passengers dropped in May, infected flights within Canada saw sharp rise

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While actions barring direct flights from India and Pakistan greatly curtailed planes entering Canada carrying COVID-19 infected passengers, the move had little impact on domestic flights.

In fact, the number of flights within Canada carrying passengers who tested positive for the potentially fatal respiratory infection actually increased in May — 323 compared to just 255 in April.

Toronto was the largest source of domestic-infected flights in May, with 67 departing Pearson last month, according to data posted online by Health Canada.

Calgary was close behind with 66 departures, followed by Montreal with 47, Fort McMurray and other airports servicing Athabasca oilsands worksites reporting 32 flights, Edmonton with 27, Vancouver with 23, and Winnipeg with 8.

The northernmost airport impacted was a dirt airstrip in Mary River, Nunavut on Baffin Island, about 600 km north of the Arctic Circle — seeing five daily infected flights departing Montreal-Longueuil Airport May 9-13.


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On April 23, Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra halted passenger flights from India and Pakistan, and added restrictions on travellers from both nations arriving via connecting flights — including requiring a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken at the last port of entry before entering Canada.

This all but halted passenger traffic from both countries, as the 24 to 48 hours required for such tests to be laboratory processed made taking the test during an hours-long airport stopover impossible.

Flights from India were never a significant source of international infections, with only a handful landing at Canadian airports per month. But that changed mid-February when India’s devastating variant-fuelled second wave led to an enormous spike in infected passengers.


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Health Canada only reported five infected flights from Pakistan in April.

May saw 129 international flights carrying COVID-19 infected passengers to Canada, compared to 287 in April.

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April’s ban not only stopped the four-daily flights into Canada from Delhi, it also greatly slowed infections from destinations typically used as connecting airports from India, including Frankfurt, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

While numbers are constantly updated by Health Canada, only 60 infected international flights were recorded between June 1 and June 12.

Nine of those flights came from the United States, with seven from Paris and Istanbul, six from Guatemala, four from Amsterdam, and three each from Panama, Mexico City and Manila.

So far this month, 26 infected domestic flights have been reported.
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume


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