Canada on Monday said it would allow fully vaccinated U.S. tourists to enter the country starting from Aug. 9, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month ban.
A rapid return in traffic can create staffing headaches for carriers which cancelled thousands of flights during the COVID-19 pandemic when demand plummeted.
Some U.S. airlines scrambled to re-train pilots whose flying credentials expired during the pandemic as the carriers raced to meet a surge in summer travel demand. American Airlines, for example, trimmed its July flying due to overall labor shortages.
As of April 13, Air Canada had 600 pilots on furlough, according to their union. The carrier had around 4,000 pilots before COVID-19, said a spokeswoman for the Air Canada Pilots Association.
But Air Canada said by email the carrier took steps during the pandemic to keep pilots in the air, such as having three pilots instead of two, even on near-empty flights and converting larger aircraft to freighters.
“We have all the fully qualified pilots we require as travel ramps back up,” an Air Canada spokesperson said.
Air Canada has 11 simulators and access to five more through aviation training specialist CAE.
Montreal-based CAE has seen higher demand for its simulator services, with its pilot-training centers now operating at around 60% of capacity in the United States, a spokeswoman said.
Air Canada shares were up 7% in afternoon trading. The carrier reports quarterly earnings on Friday.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal. Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler)