Air  Canada is to run a reduced summer schedule with its network more than halved as it resumes flights after Covid-19 forced a virtual shutdown of operations.

The carrier will serve just 97 destinations, down from 220 last year, including London from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in June.

The schedule within Canada will increase from 34 routes in May to 58 routes next month, with more added in August and September.

Air Canada has also updated its schedule until the end of July with resumption of some services to the US, Caribbean, South American, Europe and Asia.

The airline revealed that almost C$1 billion had been refunded to customers due to Covid-19 cancellations at a time when 95% of flights were grounded.

“In cases where Air Canada cancels flights due to Covid-19, customers with refundable tickets will continue to have the option of refunds,” the airline said.

Passengers with refundable and non-refundable tickets will also have two new options:

  • A travel voucher for the remaining value of their ticket that has no expiry date, is fully transferable and retains any residual value or;
  • The ability to convert the remaining value of their ticket into Aeroplan loyalty scheme miles, with 65% more value versus the normal rate for buying miles.

The airline has implemented a CleanCare+ biosecurity programme and is introducing new cancellation options if passengers’ travel plans change.

Chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette said: “Air Canada has put in place an abridged summer schedule offering a choice of nearly 100 destinations across Canada, in the US and internationally.

“As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, during which as much as 95% of our flights stopped operating and which has left us flying to less than half last year’s destinations, our customers are expressing their eagerness to travel, where it is safe to do so.

“We are accordingly gradually opening for sale flights for the summer and beyond as we rebuild our network, leveraging our strong position as a global airline.”

She added: “While the world is making great progress against Covid-19, we know we must remain vigilant, which includes being flexible.

“This is why we are introducing two new solutions for customers should their travel plans change.

“In addition to our regular goodwill policies, starting June 1 we will offer customers the choice of a travel voucher with no expiry date that is fully transferable or to convert their booking into Aeroplan Miles and get an additional 65% bonus miles.

“Both options, retroactive to March 1, give customers greater confidence and flexibility to plan and book travel with Air Canada.

“Finally, to further ensure the safety of our customers and employees, we have introduced Air Canada CleanCare+, a comprehensive biosecurity program to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19.

“Air Canada CleanCare+ works through multi-layered measures that limit unnecessary interactions, require the use of personal protective equipment and employ state-of-the-art cleaning techniques on board our aircraft.

“We have further committed to adopt new strategies and technologies as they become available.”