Last Updated on September 27, 2021
The first direct Air Canada flight from India in 103 days touched down at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport this morning, in the early hours of Sept. 27.
“People are eager to reunite with family and friends and we are very pleased to resume service immediately from India to our Toronto and Vancouver hubs following the lifting of restrictions by the Government of Canada,” said Mark Galardo, Air Canada’s senior vice president of network planning and revenue management.
“We continue to be focused on the growing visiting friends and relatives market, and together with the long-standing cultural and business ties between Canada and India which are expected to grow over the coming years, Air Canada remains strongly committed to this important Asia-Pacific market,” he said.
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Air Canada is the leading carrier between the two countries. The airline has been offering flights from Toronto and Vancouver to Delhi and Mumbai since 2015.
On Twitter, the lifting of the flight ban was greeted with enthusiasm by Indian nationals. But some noted there are still difficulties in boarding the planes.
Indian Nationals Thrilled Flights Resume but New Measures Cause Consternation
“My daughter was denied boarding even though she had valid multiple entry visa and all required documents,” claimed one irate father on Twitter. “She was harassed at the airport. The staff was adamant to not let her board and did not listen to a word.”
Although Transport Canada has lifted the ban since midnight on Sunday, new measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of CO VID-19.
Travellers from India to Canada must now have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure of their direct flight to Canada.
Prior to boarding, air operators check the travellers’ test results to ensure they are eligible to come to Canada, and that fully-vaccinated travellers have uploaded their information into the ArriveCAN mobile app or website.
Travellers who are unable or unwilling to meet these requirements are being denied boarding.
Passengers are also tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Canada.
Arrivals From Third Countries Still Need Negative Covid-19 Test
In a statement, Transport Canada has also warned that passengers coming to Canada from India indirectly will still need a negative molecular test obtained within 72 hours of departure from a third country.
When Canada first put a halt to flights from India on Apr. 22, that country was struggling with what appeared to be an out-of-control second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patty Hajdu, Canada’s health minister, said in April that Indian citizens then represented 20 percent of international arrivals, but 50 percent of positive tests conducted by airport staff.
“By eliminating direct travel from (India), public health experts will have the time to evaluate the ongoing epidemiology of that region and to reassess the situation,” she said.
While the move was praised by those grateful for any measures to curb the spread of the variant currently responsible for most of the new cases of COVID-19, others criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government for what they considered to be an ineffective measure.