July 29, 2020 / 1:22 PM / 10 days ago

European air executives press Canada for safe return of travel

MONTREAL, July 29 (Reuters) - European airline and airport executives this week urged the Canadian government to allow a safe “restoration of travel” between Canada and Europe, increasing industry pressure on Ottawa to remove coronavirus-related restrictions that have discouraged international air travel.

In a letter dated July 27, top executives of nearly a dozen European airlines and airports, warned that “since many EU (European Union) countries and Switzerland require reciprocity to re-establish access, Canada’s continued entry restriction and quarantine requirements are becoming problematic.”

The content of the letter, which was sent to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government ministers, was reviewed by Reuters.

The EU has taken steps in recent weeks to relax travel requirements both internally and towards citizens of select other countries, including Canada, although Britain reintroduced a 14-day quarantine this week for arrivals from Spain.

Canada has largely kept its borders closed for non-essential travel with the United States, its key trading partner, amid a rise in U.S. coronavirus cases. The restrictions also have been maintained for citizens from other countries with lower infection rates.

Trudeau has dismissed repeated calls from Air Canada to relax air travel restrictions to select countries.

The July 27 letter was signed by executives from Air France-KLM and Germany’s Lufthansa Group, among others.

Trudeau’s office and Air France-KLM were not immediately available for comment.

“Canada should look to remove the restrictions on travel to European Union and Swiss nationals and allow for a safe, cautious and sensible restoration of travel between two important trading partners,” the executives said in the letter. (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal Additional reporting by Laurence Frost in Paris and Steve Scherer in Ottawa Editing by Paul Simao)

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