(WestJet/Twitter)

The Omicron variant continues to impact Canada’s transportation industry, with WestJet announcing they will be cutting back on their flights due to uncertainties surrounding travel, weather and government restrictions.

In a release Tuesday, WestJet announced they would be consolidating 20% of its scheduled flights from February 1st through February 28th, as the Omicron variant and impact of government barriers had continued to affect their schedule and staffing levels.

These reductions are in addition to WestJet’s January flight consolidation announcement made in December, where Omicron and prolonged frigid temperatures made it difficult to properly staff and operate their scheduled flights. As a result, WestJet announced they were consolidating 15% of their flights until the end of January.

“As we continue to navigate the unpredictability of the Omicron variant on our staffing levels along with the ongoing barriers to international travel, we are making every effort to proactively manage our schedule in order to minimize disruption to our guests’ travel plans,” said Harry Taylor, Interim WestJet Group, President & CEO. 

“To our guests impacted by these additional consolidations, we sincerely apologize for the disruption and appreciate your continued understanding and patience.”

According to the release, travellers impacted by this additional flight consolidation will be notified of changes to their itineraries by email. 

Prior to calling, travellers are encouraged to utilize self-service options. Currently, a notice on the WestJet website indicates they are experiencing high call wait times and to only call if you are within 72 hours of your expected flight time.

“We continue to advocate for the elimination of cumbersome travel rules that are unnecessarily impacting Canadians and prolonging the recovery of the travel and tourism sector,” said Taylor. 

“Canada remains one of the only countries in the world requiring multiple molecular tests for fully-vaccinated travelers — these testing resources should be redeployed to our communities.”

Flexible change and cancel guidelines and schedule change refund policies remain in place.

WestJet isn’t the only company within the transportation sector experiencing the impacts of Omicron and staffing shortages. 

Last week, BC Ferries announced they were anticipating additional unplanned service disruptions on all routes over the coming months.

See more: BC Ferries warns of disruptions to future service operations due to crew shortages

In the past few weeks, BC Ferries has seen a significant number of sailings delayed or cancelled due to winter weather conditions, high winds and crew shortages.

BC Ferries hopes to avoid service disruptions wherever it can and effectively communicate them when they do arise. They are also looking into other ways to minimize the impact the disruptions of sailings have on customers.

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