Canada to ease border restrictions in steps, scrap hotel quarantine

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada is poised to outline a process to ease border restrictions for fully vaccinated citizens and to get rid of its hotel quarantine for returning air travelers as soon as July, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Canada’s air and land borders have allowed for only essential travel since March of last year, and Canadians coming home are currently required to quarantine for 14 days. If they fly home, they also must quarantine in a designated hotel until they receive a negative COVID-19 test.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents coming home will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days, nor endure a hotel quarantine, once 75% of the eligible population has received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 20% has had a second dose, said the source who asked not to be identified.

However, even fully vaccinated travelers will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and quarantine until they receive a negative result, the source said.

There will be as many as seven steps before borders are completely opened when 75% of the population is fully vaccinated, the source said. It is still unclear when the rules might change for foreign travelers as there were few details on subsequent steps.

Canadian businesses, and especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying furiously for the government to relax restrictions as more and more people are vaccinated. Some 63% of eligible Canadians have received a first shot, while 8.5% have got a second one.

Canada will have enough vaccines to reach that 75%/20% vaccination threshold by June 21, said Trevor Tombe, an economic professor at the University of Calgary who tracks scheduled deliveries of vaccines.

However, the supply will then need to be distributed and administered, and two weeks should pass to allow immunity from the first shots to take effect, so Canada could reach that goal in mid-July, Tombe said.

News of the plan to ease restrictions was first reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s Katie Simpson on Twitter, who said the announcement would be made later on Wednesday. French-language public broadcaster Radio-Canada had earlier reported the hotel quarantine would be scrapped.

Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety, which is in charge of border security, did not immediately respond for comment.

(Reporting by Steve SchererEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)

Canada PM Trudeau indicates U.S. border restrictions to last a long time

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau’s comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two neighbors agreed to the ban in March and have rolled it over on a monthly basis ever since.

The ban does not affect trade. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States every month.

“Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. when asked about the issue.

“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has. It’s just not people traveling, which I think is the important thing,” he said.

The restrictions are opposed by the travel industry, which says they are suffering as tourist flows dry up.

But the premiers of Canada’s major provinces have repeatedly said they have no interest in reopening the border as long as cases of COVID-19 continue to escalate in the United States.

A second wave is also sweeping across Canada, where authorities are starting to reimpose restrictions on businesses and limiting the size of gatherings.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Boeing cuts jet demand forecast on pandemic crisis

By Eric M. Johnson and Tim Hepher

SEATTLE/PARIS (Reuters) – Boeing cut its rolling 20-year forecast for airplane demand on Tuesday, sending its shares lower as the COVID-19 pandemic lays waste to deliveries over the next few years.

The U.S. plane maker, which dominates jet sales together with Europe’s Airbus, forecast 43,110 commercial aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years, down 2% from 44,040 projected a year ago and worth an unchanged $6.8 trillion at list prices.

While fleets are still expected to almost double, it is the first time since the 2009 financial crisis that Boeing has cut the 20-year demand forecast in terms of the number of deliveries.

Boeing, also for the first time, lifted the lid on the first half of the 20-year period, showing steep declines for the coming decade on the heels of the COVID-19 crisis. It predicted 18,350 deliveries for 2020-2029, down 10.7% from an unpublished forecast of 20,550 embedded in the last report.

“The industry clearly has been dramatically impacted … by the pandemic,” Commercial Marketing Vice-President Darren Hulst said.

Boeing shares fell as much as 3.3% after the report.

A key forecast for passenger traffic growth – once a reliable 5% a year – has been edging lower since 2015 as a record aviation boom peaked. But it took a sharp knock lower in the latest report, falling to 4% from 4.6% a year ago.

Boeing, America’s largest exporter, lowered its assumption for average global economic growth over 20 years to 2.5% from 2.7% after the pandemic plunged key markets into recession.

Even so, Boeing expressed confidence that demand would return towards previous trends in the 2030’s, just as it did after earlier economic shocks. Environmentalist critics say the crisis is an opportunity for the industry to get smaller.

WEAK DEMAND FOR BIG JETS

“It will take longer from this crisis but … the industry will prove resilient again; the fundamentals aren’t changing,” Hulst said.

Demand will be buoyed in part by a rise in the number of replacements as airlines accelerate the retirement of older jets to save running costs and meet environmental goals.

Thousands of jets have been parked during the crisis, especially long-haul twin-aisle models, owing to the widespread border restrictions choking international air travel.

Boeing cut its 20-year forecast for twin-aisle models such as its 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 by more than 10%. At 7,480 jets, down from 8,340 a year ago, that part of the 20-year forecast is now lower than 8,000 for the first time since 2010.

Twin-aisle demand will be especially slow in the next 10 years with deliveries of only 3,060 aircraft, Boeing said.

The 20-year forecast for smaller single-aisle jets, such as the grounded 737 MAX, dipped 0.5% from the last survey. Previously Boeing had been revising it up by about 3.5-4% year in, year out.

Boeing now sees 32,270 deliveries in the medium-haul single-aisle category, traditionally the cash cow of large plane makers. That includes 13,570 deliveries between now and 2029.

Although medium-haul travel is showing signs of revival, particularly in the booming China market, airlines there continue to sit on the sidelines amid U.S. trade tensions.

While global passenger demand has been mauled by COVID-19, demand for freighters has gone up as shippers seek alternatives to the cargo space being left empty in unused passenger jets.

Despite that near-term bump, Boeing cut its 20-year forecast for freighters by 10.6% to 930 jets on weaker trade and a move by carriers to group shipments into bigger jets to reduce costs.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman)