A big step in local air travel’s return to normalcy will happen this weekend as Canadian flights resume at Tampa International Airport.
Air Canada will begin limited service from Tampa to Toronto on Saturday, the first regular year-round service to Canada since before the coronavirus pandemic. Some airlines offered seasonal flights between October and January, but those were suspended as COVID-19 cases spiked.
That doesn’t mean just anyone can buy a ticket, though.
While Canada has begun easing some travel restrictions for international travelers, recreational travel from the United States is still barred. In some cases, Americans can apply for exemptions related to work or family, including funerals, but entry is not guaranteed. The Canadian government has a quiz to determine if you’re eligible at travel.gc.ca/travel-covid. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated the country has a soft mid-August target for allowing non-essential travel from the States.
Canadian citizens, on the other hand, have been able to enter the United States for leisure — and then return to Canada — for months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all inbound U.S. travelers, including those fully vaccinated, must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel, or of recovery from COVID-19 within the past three months.
Canada is Tampa Bay’s biggest international tourism market, with more than 436,000 passengers coming to Tampa International Airport in 2019.
“We have a vast market of Canadian tourism here in Tampa Bay, so we’re really excited to start welcoming our Canadian friends back to our region,” Chris Minner, the airport’s executive vice president of marketing and communications, said in a statement. “Air Canada has been a vital partner for years and we look forward to resuming these flights and supporting their continued growth.”
Mark Galardo, Air Canada’s senior vice president for network planning and revenue management, called Florida “one of the top destinations for Canadians, especially our snowbirds.”
“As the biggest foreign carrier into the U.S., we are committed to maintain the strong tourism and trade relationship Canada and Florida have built over the years and we are delighted to be back to support the recovery of both economies.”
Air Canada service between Tampa and Toronto will be on weekends only to start.