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Allegiant reports a profit in the second quarter

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Allegiant Travel Company (Allegiant Air) today reported the following financial results for the second quarter 2021, as well as comparisons to the prior years:

Consolidated Three Months Ended June 30, Percent Change
(unaudited) (in millions, except per share amounts) 2021 2020 2019 YoY Yo2Y
Total operating revenue $ 472.4 $ 133.3 $ 491.8 254.3 (3.9)
Total operating expense 333.6 246.6 383.7 35.3 (13.1)
Operating income (loss) 138.9 (113.3) 108.1 222.6 28.4
Income (loss) before income taxes 122.6 (146.4) 91.8 183.7 33.5
Net income (loss) 95.0 (93.1) 70.5 202.1 34.7
Diluted earnings (loss) per share $ 5.49 $ (5.85) $ 4.33 193.8 26.8
Six Months Ended June 30, Percent Change
(unaudited) (in millions, except per share amounts) 2021 2020 2019 YoY Yo2Y
Total operating revenue $ 751.6 $ 542.5 $ 943.4 38.5 (20.3)
Total operating expense 588.1 766.8 744.2 (23.3) (21.0)
Operating income (loss) 163.5 (224.3) 199.2 172.9 (17.9)
Income (loss) before income taxes 131.2 (277.1) 165.7 147.4 (20.8)
Net income (loss) 101.9 (126.1) 127.7 180.8 (20.2)
Diluted earnings (loss) per share $ 6.04 $ (7.93) $ 7.84 176.2 (23.0)
Consolidated – adjusted Three Months Ended June 30, Percent Change
(unaudited) (in millions, except per share amounts) 2021 2020 2019 YoY Yo2Y
Adjusted operating expense (1) (2) $ 378.6 $ 239.9 $ 383.7 57.8 (1.3)
Adjusted operating income (loss) (1) (2) 93.9 (106.6) 108.1 188.1 (13.1)
Adjusted income (loss) before income taxes (1) (2) 77.6 (119.9) 91.8 164.7 (15.5)
Adjusted net income (loss) (1) (2) 60.0 (94.7) 70.5 163.4 (14.9)
Adjusted diluted earnings (loss) per share (1) (2) $ 3.46 $ (5.96) $ 4.33 158.1 (20.1)
Six Months Ended June 30, Percent Change
(unaudited) (in millions, except per share amounts) 2021 2020 2019 YoY Yo2Y
Adjusted operating expense (1) (2) $ 716.7 $ 594.0 $ 744.2 20.7 (3.7)
Adjusted operating income (loss) (1) (2) 34.9 (51.5) 199.2 167.8 (82.5)
Adjusted income (loss) before income taxes (1) (2) 2.6 (77.7) 165.7 103.3 (98.4)
Adjusted net income (loss) (1) (2) 2.0 (61.4) 127.7 103.3 (98.4)
Adjusted diluted earnings (loss) per share (1) (2) $ 0.12 $ (3.87) $ 7.84 103.1 (98.5)
(1) Adjusted numbers exclude COVID related special charges, the net benefit from the payroll support programs (PSPs), and profit sharing bonus accruals since the operating margin threshold to accrue these bonuses would not have been met for the six months ended June 30, 2021 without the benefits of the PSPs
(2) Denotes a non-GAAP financial measure. Refer to the Non-GAAP Presentation section within this document for further information

“The second quarter marked the return of leisure demand to pre-pandemic levels,” stated Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., chairman and CEO of Allegiant Travel Company. “Earnings per share came in at $5.49 on a year over two-year revenue decline of just 3.9 percent, with total revenue in June exceeding 2019 levels. We made significant progress towards achieving pre-pandemic unit revenues with TRASM of 10.36 cents (on a load factor of 70.8 percent), up 50 percent from the first quarter. The revenue team did an outstanding job optimizing loads and unit revenues during the quarter. This strong revenue performance, coupled with continued cost discipline as evidenced by our adjusted CASM, excluding fuel (3), of 5.86 cents, led to our adjusted operating margin(1) of 20 percent for the quarter.

“These results suggest we are close if not back to ‘normal’, where we were in the early days of 2020.  We were the first domestic carrier to grow capacity from 2019 levels. Given the reduced operations of the past year, this ramp up came with challenges – delays in infrastructure preparedness at some of our airports, labor constraints, and severe weather. Our operations team has done a great job reacting and adapting to these headwinds. During the third quarter we will continue our growth – capacity will increase nearly 20 percent, year over two-year.

“Last year at this time I stressed the importance of strengthening our liquidity to both weather the storm and position us favorably for growth post-pandemic. The team has done just that. We currently have $1.2 billion of cash on hand, up 79 percent from a year ago. Our total net debt continues to improve at under $400 million, a 52 percent reduction from a year ago. This strong liquidity leaves us well positioned for future growth. The fleet team has executed agreements to acquire 21 additional aircraft since the beginning of the year. These airplanes will all be placed into service by the end of 2022, thus supporting the remainder of this year as well as most of next year’s growth plan.

“The next year will be an exciting one for the company. We are preparing the launch of our new loyalty program in the coming months, Allways Rewards. This program will enable us to further enhance the customer experience. We also recently announced a new partnership with Live Nation venues, Ticketmaster and music festivals – kicking off a multi-year, strategic relationship with the world’s premier live entertainment company. This partnership will ultimately unlock another layer of leisure offerings, further enhancing a one-stop shop for our customer. Finally, we will continue to grow and expand our network, connecting more customers to world-class vacation destinations.

“I cannot thank our 4,000 team members enough for their continued efforts in supporting growth while prioritizing customer safety. Ramping up the operation the past few months has been a challenge, but our team members continue to work hard to support the operation. I could not be more proud of their efforts.”

Second Quarter 2021 Results

  • GAAP earnings per share of $5.49
    • Adjusted earnings per share(1) (2) (3) of $3.46
  • Consolidated EBITDA(2) (3) of $183.3 million yielding an EBITDA margin of 38.8 percent
    • Adjusted EBITDA(1) (2) (3) of $138.3 million yielding an adjusted EBITDA margin of 29.3 percent
  • Total June revenue exceeded June of 2019
  • Total operating revenue was $472.4 million, up 69.3 percent from the first quarter and down 3.9 percent when compared to the second quarter of 2019
    • Sustained yield strength throughout the quarter with yield up 7.8 percent year over two-year on scheduled service capacity increases of 4.5 percent
  • Total average fare of $126.82, up 10.8 percent year over two-year
    • Total ancillary average fare $64.25, up 14.6 percent from 2019 driven primarily by bundled air ancillary offerings, rental car rate strength, and increased cobrand activity
  • TRASM of 10.36 cents, down 5.6 percent year over two-year, and up 50.3 percent from the first quarter 2021
  • Load factor of 70.8%, up nearly 16 percentage points from the first quarter
  • Record-breaking quarter for co-brand activity with June new cardholder acquisitions becoming the highest month in the program’s history and the highest month for cardholder spend, beating the prior monthly spend record by more than 40 percent
    • May marked the third highest acquisition of new cardholders in program history
  • Adjusted operating expense(1) (2) (3) of $378.6 million, down 1.3 percent from second quarter 2019 on total system capacity increase of 3.3 percent
    • Adjusted Operating CASM, excluding fuel (3) of 5.86 cents, flat when compared to the second quarter of 2019
  • Adjusted operating margin(1) of 19.9 percent
  • Expanded the network by adding 29 new routes with four new cities and complementary service in Phoenix with the addition of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, bringing total routes served to 596 and 134 cities
  • Ranked number two among US airlines within the 2021 Airline Quality Ranking

(1) Adjusted numbers exclude COVID related special charges, the net benefit from the payroll support programs, and profit sharing bonus accruals since the operating margin threshold to accrue these bonuses would not have been met for the six months ended June 30, 2021 without the benefits of the PSPs
(2) Denotes a non-GAAP financial measure
(3) Refer to the Non-GAAP Presentation section within this document for further information

Balance Sheet, Cash and Liquidity

  • Total cash and investments at June 30, 2021 were $1.2 billion, up from $728 million at March 31, 2021
    • Cash from operations of $237 million, including the benefit from the payroll support program and federal income tax refund of $12 million related to prior period tax net operating losses
      • Adjusted cash from operations of $176 million, which excludes the $49.2 million net benefit from the PSPs, and $12 million federal tax refund
    • Debt principal payments of $48 million during the quarter
      • Includes prepayment of debt secured by five aircraft
    • $65 million used for cash capital expenditures
    • Raised $335 million from issuance of 1.6 million shares at a price of $219 per share during the second quarter
  • Second quarter interest expense of $17 million, down 20 percent year over two-year
  • Expect to receive $136 million in federal tax refunds during the second half of the year related to 2020 net operating losses
  • Air traffic liability at June 30, 2021 was $437 million
    • Balance related to future scheduled flights is $305 million
    • Balance related to travel vouchers issued for future use is $132 million, a 26 percent reduction from March 31, 2021

Capital Expenditures

  • Second quarter capital expenditures related to aircraft, engines and induction costs were $46 million and $19 million in other airline capital expenditures
  • Second quarter capital expenditures related to deferred heavy maintenance were $23 million
  • Executed agreements to acquire 21 incremental aircraft year-to-date
Guidance, subject to revision Previous Current
Third Quarter 2021 guidance
System ASMs – year over two-year change(1) 16.0 to 20.0%
Scheduled Service  ASMs – year over two-year change(1) 16.0 to 20.0%
Total operating revenue – year over two-year change (1) Up 3.5% to 7.5%
Fuel cost per gallon $ 2.11
Full year 2021 guidance
CAPEX
Aircraft, engines and induction costs (millions) $115 to $125 $115 to $125
Capitalized Airbus deferred heavy maintenance (millions) $50 to $60 $50 to $60
Other capital expenditures (millions) $40 to $50 $40 to $50
Interest expense $65 to $70 $65 to $70
Recurring principal payments(2) $170 to $180 $170 to $180
(1) Year over two-year percentage changes compare 2021 to 2019
(2) Excludes $111 million of principal repayments related to the maturity of our revolving credit facility and the refinancing of three A320 aircraft during the first quarter 2021

Aircraft Fleet Plan by End of Period

Aircraft – (seats per AC) 2Q21 3Q21 YE21
A319 (156 seats) 35 35 35
A320 (177 seats) 23 23 22
A320 (186 seats) 45 49 51
Total 103 107 108
The table above is provided based on the company’s current plans and is subject to change

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/28/allegiant-reports-a-profit-in-the-second-quarter/

Aviation

JobKeeper-style aid for international aviation to continue

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Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ lands in Sydney after flying nonstop from London. (Qantas)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ lands in Sydney after flying nonstop from London. (Qantas)

The federal government has announced it will give another $184 million to international aviation to tide the sector over until March 2022.

The money will primarily include a continuation of JobKeeper-style payments to pilots and cabin crew that was originally due to expire next month, as well as a further $64 million for airports to pay for screening of passengers and baggage.

It comes weeks after Qantas and Jetstar revealed it will reinstate international schedules in mid-December between Australia and low-risk countries such as Singapore, the US, Japan, the UK, Canada and Fiji. The news that payments will continue suggests the government is anticipating a staggered opening of borders to different countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who oversees transport policy, said, “As a driver of so many sectors of our economy, it is essential that the industry is ready to ramp up operations when international restrictions are eased.

“It’s also important that the sector continues operating now, to maintain the flow of exports and imports and bring Australians home from overseas.”

Airports that will get money for screening include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and means the total amount of government support for aviation during COVID has now gone over $5 billion.

Currently, Australian citizens and permanent residents can only leave the country with an exemption, with Qantas having halted all commercial international flights other than government-supplemented repatriations.

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Those returning must hotel quarantine for two weeks, but there is hope the federal government will have relaxed that rule later this year, in favour of home quarantine or proof of vaccination status.

Qantas has previously said its international re-opening is likely to be “gradual”, with a focus on low-risk countries first, including those with high vaccination uptake including the UK, US, and parts of Asia.

Last week Australian Aviation reported that 50 Qantas aircrew will take part in a home-isolation trial in NSW that will pave the way for the abolition of hotel quarantine for international arrivals.

In total, 175 people will be allowed to stay at home for seven days, rather than in a supervised facility for 14, and the trial will begin this month. It has been suggested location-based apps and facial recognition technology could be used to ensure compliance.

The trial will initially include people who will be selected by NSW Health and may include the state’s residents, non-Australians and Qantas air crew.

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said, “We have been working with Qantas aircrew and staff for a number of months now and will include some of those people in this trial to conduct their quarantine at home.”

Minister Ayres hailed the move as an “important step” that has been driven by the accelerated vaccine take-up.

“This is a trial, and about testing different types of accommodation, apartments, and homes,” said Minister Ayres.

“We want to ensure we get the spread right. This isn’t about prioritising individuals or people who have been overseas. It’s about ensuring we conduct the trial properly and build the base of evidence, so we can remove our hotel quarantine system for the majority of people who are coming into Australia.

“We can’t stay closed forever. We’ve got to be able to learn what happens when we put people into home-based quarantine.

“Australia must reopen. We must get rid of lockdowns, we must get rid of home quarantine, we must re-engage with the world.

“Sydney is a global city and it must engage with the globe. This is an important step in that direction.”

The trial will only apply to those who have been double vaccinated with Australian-approved vaccines, and would build on evidence collected through an earlier SA trial.

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Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/09/jobkeeper-style-aid-for-international-aviation-to-continue/

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Aviation

Let’s Talk About Next Generation Electronic Warfare Suite For The F-16 Recently Tested By Northrop Grumman

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F-16 Next Generation Electronic Warfare Suite
The Northrop Grumman CRJ-700 test bed aircraft equipped with the Next Generation Electronic Warfare and APG-83 SABR systems at Exercise Northern Lightning. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

The new suite was tested on the company’s flying testbed in conjunction with the APG-83 SABR AESA radar during Exercise Northern Lightning.

Northrop Grumman recently announced that the new Next Generation Electronic Warfare (NGEW) system was tested for the first time joined the AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) at Exercise Northern Lightning, demonstrating the full interoperability of the two systems in a realistic and contested electromagnetic spectrum environment. The company used one of their flying testbeds, a CRJ-700 equipped with NGEW and a SABR radar inside an F-16’s nosecone.

“When an EW system and a radar are able to work together fully, as demonstrated with NGEW and SABR, pilots can take advantage of capability without compromise,” said James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman. “With the radio frequency (RF) spectrum becoming increasingly contested, this critical set of capabilities will support the F-16 for many years to come.”

According to Northrop Grumman, NGEW and SABR demonstrated full pulse-to-pulse, multi-function interoperability in a contested operational environment. With SABR successfully engaging multiple air and ground targets, NGEW detected and identified a range of advanced threats, employing advanced jamming techniques capable of defeating those threats when required.

The company worked alongside the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, the Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force and the F-16 system program office to test the new EW suite, which includes a new Digital Radar Warning Receiver, state of the art antennas and processors, and a digital frequency memory internal jammer. “During Northern Lightning we gained valuable insight on NGEW capabilities and obtained over 170 test points against both air and ground emitters,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Graham, F-16 electronic warfare test director, OFP CTF.  “We are one step closer to installing the first NGEW suite on an Eglin F-16 in less than one year.”

Northern Lightning set the right environment to demonstrate NGEW’s compatibility with the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar while identifying jamming threats across the Radio Frequency spectrum. In fact, during the exercise, the two systems faced a high-density radio frequency environment generated by the Joint Threat Emitters of the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center. These threat emitters allowed Northern Lightning participants to fly missions under conditions representative of near-peer electromagnetic spectrum environments.

NGEW leverages an open-systems, ultra-wideband architecture, providing the instantaneous bandwidth needed to defeat modern threats. As RF threats continue to proliferate, effective electronic warfare systems are urgently needed to keep pilots safe and ensure mission success. “There is a strong push to improve Electronic Protection for the F-16 against modern adversaries,” said Lt. Col. Graham. “NL21 allowed for both an RF dense environment while permitting targeted testing before, during, and after LFE fights.”

An F-16C equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod tests the infrared search and track technology during exercise Northern Lightning 21. (U.S. Space Force by Senior Airman Mira Roman)

The Air Force awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman in late 2020 for the development of NGEW, with the goal of equipping as many as 450 F-16s if the testing is successful. An interesting point added by Northrop Grumman is that the EW suite being developed for the Viper (as the F-16 is nicknamed by its crews) is part of a product line of electronic warfare capabilities that can be adapted to protect virtually any platform, which shares a common technology baseline with the already known AC/MC-130J Radio Frequency Countermeasures (RFCM).

Another interesting aspect pulse-to-pulse interoperability of NGEW with the F-16’s newly acquired APG-83 radar which has been declared fully operational with the Air National Guard in October 2020. While not better specified, this should mean that the two systems are interoperable without generating significant interferences and maybe, coupled together, the AESA radar and the new EW suite could provide some additional advanced capabilities that would not be available with a mechanical radar.

Exercise Northern Lightning was also the right occasion to introduce the latest F-16 software in a Large Force Exercise, “graduating” the F-16 Mission Modular Computer M7.3 which hosts the new software for the jet. The next step will be releasing the software to the Combat Air Forces where the F-16 fleet as a whole will receive an update in its avionics and weapons system with enhanced capabilities to improve air-to-air capabilities and targeting accuracy, enabling new combat capabilities.

“The F-16 is rapidly improving its combat capability to stay relevant in a near-peer fight and the dedication of the F-16 test community is evident in accelerating change to the CAF,” said Capt Michael Mclain, chief of standardization and evaluation at the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron. The F-16 testing also saw the integration of Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod equipped with Infrared Search and Tracking System technology.

“We were able to achieve what usually takes three to six months of testing in a matter of weeks,” said Lt Col. Jeremy Castor, F-16 sensors program manager, OFP CTF. “This has all to do with the collaboration that took place between the Lockheed Martin team and the operators out in the field who would test the infrared search and track technology during every sortie then retract the data and re-program the pod to better equip the warfighter in our combat scenarios.”

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

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Source: https://theaviationist.com/2021/09/19/f-16-next-generation-electronic-warfare-suite/

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Aviation

An insight into Victorville Airport with ComAv Technical Services

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The commercial airline sector is well known for being a cyclical industry, where there are periods of growth in addition to periods of economic downturn and contraction. It is quite common especially during periods of low passenger demand, like for instance during the COVID pandemic, for aircraft to be placed in storage until airlines deem that there is sufficient passenger demand again that requires the aircraft to be reintroduced.

50 miles north of San Bernardino in Southern California lies a relatively unknown airport with no commercial flights. However, upon arrival at the airfield, you’ll find a plethora of different aircraft types and airlines from across the planet.

ComAv Technical Services is based at this airport, one of the largest aircraft maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) companies in the world. The commercial aviation service provider has a total storage capacity for at least 500 aircraft.

“For 22 years we have been the largest employer at the airport and that can provide many different options for career and promotional paths in the aviation industry.”

Lisa Christine, Executive Director of Corporate Initiatives

Thai Airways Boeing 777-300(ER)
A Thai Airways Boeing 777-300(ER) registered HS-TTA with engines and landing gear covered at ComAv Technical Services. Photo by Karam Sodhi | AeroNewsX.

New and used

It is also important to highlight that it is not just used and older aircraft that are parked at ComAv Technical Services facilities in Victorville. In fact, many brand new aircraft have also been placed into temporary storage, including Boeing 737 MAXs, 777s and 787s that are awaiting delivery to their respective airlines.

“We provide educational on-site tour programs, job shadowing opportunities to paid internships. Partnering with Victor Valley College, they have the opportunity to study in the classroom settings and work for us to gain the hands on industry experience needed towards and airframe and powerplant license. Many of which are then employed full-time with the ComAv Technical Services for various roles they wish to pursue.”

Lisa Christine, Executive Director of Corporate Initiatives

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Source: https://aeronewsx.com/an-insight-into-victorville-airport-with-comav-technical-services/

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Canadians appear eager to take off for sun destinations despite ongoing COVID-19 challenges

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From CBC News – link to source story

Increased demand for bookings, as Ottawa still advising Canadians to stay home

Geoff Nixon · CBC News · Posted: Sep 19, 2021

A row of beach chairs in Varadero, Cuba, is empty of sun-seekers in March 2021. Cuba is relaxing restrictions for incoming Canadian tourists starting in mid-November. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

Michel Dubois has packed his bags, even though his planned trip to Cuba is still more than two months away.

That’s because the retired TV cameraman and editor from Saint-Jérome, Que., is eager for a break from the monotony of pandemic life.

“After a year and a half of sitting in front of my TV and computer, it’s time to move on,” said Dubois, 70, who plans to do some scuba diving and enjoy the sun.

Trips like the one Dubois has booked are giving airlines and tour operators something to look forward to as well — seemingly better business prospects after months of severely hampered operations due to pandemic-related border closures and travel restrictions.

Some key travel players are reporting increased demand for bookings to sun destinations, despite the ongoing challenges of a global pandemic that has yet to end inside or outside Canada’s borders.

Better days ahead?

The onset of the pandemic prompted governments — including Canada’s — to urge people to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus and its variants.

It’s a stance Ottawa still holds, even though the government recently loosened restrictions for incoming travellers who are vaccinated.

Tourists relax on a beach in Cancun, Mexico, last month. (Marco Ugarte/The Associated Press)

“We continue to advise against non-essential travel outside of Canada,” Global Affairs Canada said in an email on Friday, noting that this applies to all countries around the globe.

The department also pointed to practical concerns for those who choose to go abroad.

“Additional travel restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can suspend or reduce flights without notice. Travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult to return home.”

Canada walks fine line as border reopens during fourth wave

Indeed, COVID-19 travel restrictions vary from country to country, with vaccine passports gaining traction with some governments. Prior to the current federal election campaign, Ottawa had announced plans to develop such documentation for international travel.

Then and now

Ambarish Chandra, an associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto, says that while the government actively discouraged travel last winter, that didn’t deter all people from going abroad — such as snowbirds who went to Florida.

With the progress on vaccination that has been made, Chandra said he believes Ottawa’s stance on leisure travel may have to shift.

“I don’t think it would be reasonable for the government to go a second winter season saying: ‘Don’t travel,’” Chandra said in an interview.

A mask-wearing pilot at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in March 2020, the same month the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Many border closures and travel restrictions were soon put into effect in countries around the world. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Jörg Fritz, an associate professor in the microbiology and immunology department at Montreal’s McGill University, says that as travel picks up, Canada will have to keep a close eye on what strains of the virus are circulating here and around the globe.

“We simply need to face that this virus will not go away that quickly,” he said.

“The danger that new variants arise that might escape vaccine-induced immunity is still there and will be there for quite a while.”

It’s also key for Canada to continue increasing its vaccination rate and to ensure that children are protected as soon as that is possible, Fritz said.

A desire to get away

Air Canada says the upcoming fall and winter looks promising for travel to sun destinations.

“When looking to the sun market, we are very optimistic about our recovery,” airline spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News in a recent email, adding that “we are currently observing demand growth that is above 2019 levels.”

Sunwing Travel Group says it’s seeing ‘encouraging demand’ for sun-destination bookings compared with last fall. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, Sunwing Travel Group reports seeing “encouraging demand” compared with last fall, which spokesperson Melanie Anne Filipp says shows Canadians are growing more confident about travelling again.

“The rise in vaccinations across the country and easing border measures have without a doubt contributed to Canadians’ increasing interest in travel to sun destinations,” said Filipp, who noted that business remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Montreal-based Air Transat is currently flying passengers to a mix of domestic and international locations. Some of its sun destinations include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.

“We confirm that demand is doing well, and we clearly feel that the urge to travel is back,” Air Transat spokesperson Debbie Cabana said via email.

“However, because of the uncertainty that still exists when traveling abroad, bookings are being made more last minute than before the pandemic.”

Being able to back out

A last-minute travel buy was not the story for Dubois, the retired TV cameraman, who booked his own trip back in January.

But he also bought a ticket that will allow him to cancel his plans up to 24 hours before departure, with a full refund.

Tourists take a break at a restaurant in Havana, Cuba, in August 2019. Seven months later, the global pandemic was declared, bringing an end to most leisure travel throughout the world. (Fernando Medina/Reuters)

On prior trips, he hadn’t tended to pencil in the possibility of needing to cancel — but that was before COVID-19.

“Before now, no,” said Dubois, who worked for both CBC and Radio-Canada during his career. “Now, definitely.”

The University of Toronto’s Chandra says the more flexible arrangements being offered by airlines reflects the fact that some customers won’t be willing to book expensive tickets if there’s a chance they will lose their money.

Rolling out the welcome mat

Dubois is heading to Cuba at the end of November, and by that time, travel restrictions will have been eased.

The Cuban Tourism Ministry recently announced that as of Nov. 15, Canadians with proof of vaccination won’t have to take a test before heading to the country. They’ll also be able to travel across the island.

Vacationers take to the water at a Club Med resort in the Dominican Republic before the pandemic. With the progress on vaccination that has been made, one expert says he believes Ottawa’s restrictive stance on leisure travel may have to shift. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Sunwing’s Filipp said that “numerous sun destinations are already open for travel,” and like Cuba, other destinations are expected to ease restrictions of their own as vaccination rates rise and COVID-19 cases decline.

Chandra says he’s doubtful that differing rules between sun destinations will have much of an effect on travel patterns.

That’s because a lot of sun seekers — and snowbirds in particular — are likely to “stick to their choices” when it comes to their desired winter getaways. “They’re not going to go other places,” he said.

They’re also unlikely to go to other regions because they head south to take advantage of the better weather, he said.

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Source: https://canadianaviationnews.wordpress.com/2021/09/19/canadians-appear-eager-to-take-off-for-sun-destinations-despite-ongoing-covid-19-challenges/

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