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Air Canada to suspend flights on 30 domestic routes due to pandemic hit

FILE PHOTO: An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 from San Francisco approaches for landing at Toronto Pearson International Airport over a parked Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

(Reuters) - Air Canada said on Tuesday it would suspend flights on 30 domestic routes hit by persistent weak travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada’s largest carrier forecast third-quarter capacity would decline at least 75% from a year ago and warned that travel restrictions and border closures triggered by the pandemic were dimming prospects for a near- to mid-term recovery.

The carrier’s decision “will be very disappointing to the residents and communities affected by these service cuts,” Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said in a statement. “We understand this will have an impact on many Canadians across the country.”

Air Canada said it has reduced its workforce by about 20,000 employees, which represents more than 50% of its staff, and has permanently removed 79 aircraft from its fleet.

Air Canada added that it was closing eight stations at regional airports in Canada.

As part of a cost reduction and capital deferral program, Air Canada said it has identified around $1.1 billion in savings to date.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Steve Orlofsky

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