A Yellowknife-based airline says the federal government’s decision to suspend vaccine mandates for domestic air travellers will alleviate some of the administrative burden placed on staff.
Chris Reynolds, president of Air Tindi, says axing the vaccine passport will cut back on the time it takes to check in passengers and put less strain on an already short-staffed airport.
“It’s time consuming and no one is flushed with staff these days, so it’s just taking time away from other critical jobs,” Reynolds said.
On Tuesday, the federal government announced a suspension of vaccine mandates for federal employees and for passengers traveling by plane or train in Canada starting June 20.
Reynolds says checking vaccine passports has added roughly three minutes for every person on a scheduled flight. For chartered flights, Air Tindi services more than double the amount of passengers, which is where he says the time really adds up.
“That means the check-in time gets pushed way, way back and there’s other flights,” he said.
For northern communities, there has always been the option to test for COVID, rather than show proof of vaccination. Air Tindi administered these tests in the airport, which Reynolds says easily added another half hour for passengers to board.
During the federal government’s announcement, Transport Minister of Canada, Omar Alghabra, said international airports around the world are also facing wait times and congestion due to a surge in demand.
However, Alghabra also said the changes to vaccine mandates are not a response to congestion at Canada’s airports but are motivated by health advice and the effect mandates and vaccination policies have had on previous COVID-19 waves.
“We have been acting and working collaboratively with airports and airlines to ensure that we have increased efficiencies at our…