Air Canada rouge (RV, Toronto Pearson) paused its operations from February 8 until further notice and temporarily laid off 80 employees as a result of a travel ban on all flights to Mexico and the Caribbean imposed by the Canadian government as part of tough new restrictions to clamp-down on new strains of COVID-19.

The low-cost subsidiary of Air Canada (AC, Montréal Trudeau) already suspended flights last year at the height of the first wave of the pandemic but resumed services in November in anticipation of the winter travel season.

“As a result of our suspension of all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico at the request of the Canadian government, we are again pausing our 'rouge' operations effective February 8 as these flights are primarily operated by 'rouge',” Air Canada said in a statement. The airline said the decision meant that about 80 employees would be placed on temporary layoff. “Rouge remains a part of Air Canada's overall business strategy," the airline said.

At the request of the federal government, Canadian airlines, including Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing Airlines, and Air Transat, cancelled their services to Mexico and the Caribbean from January 31 to April 30, 2021, in response to COVID-19 concerns.

Air Canada in January announced 1,700 lay-offs and reduced its capacity by 25% as the company’s bookings dropped following increased travel restrictions.

In addition to the flight closures, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced further restrictions on January 29 to discourage Canadians from traveling, including a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test, mandatory hotel quarantine at own costs for arrivals, compliance check-ups by special Screening Officers, and six months imprisonment and/or CAD750,000 (USD587,550) in fines for offenders.

Air Canada continues to offer flights to other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.