Air Canada has announced a gradual increase in flights over the summer, but will still serve less than half the number of routes compared to last year.

The flag carrier intends to fly to 97 destinations, down from the 220 last year. Within Canada the airline is currently serving 34 routes, a figure that will increase to 58 in June, with more destinations being added in August and September.

Flights to the US were suspended in April due to government restrictions, but have now resumed to six destinations – New York’s LaGuardia, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. This is down from the 53 US destinations served last year, although Air Canada said there were “tentative plans” to increase service to the US from June 22, pending regulatory changes and demand.

The airline says that it will “continue to operate from its major hubs to key global destinations in June”, including flights from Toronto to Frankfurt, London, Zurich, Tokyo and Tel Aviv; Montreal to Frankfurt, London, Paris and Brussels; and Vancouver to London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul.

International service will also be expanded in June and July, to include flights from Montreal to Athens, Rome, Geneva; Toronto to Munich, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Rome and Athens; Calgary to Frankfurt; and (subject to government approval) Vancouver to Shanghai.

Meanwhile Air Canada has revised its booking and cancellations policy – new bookings made up to June 30 can now be changed without fees for travel up to June 30, 2021.

Refunds are only available for cancelled flights where the customer holds a refundable ticket, in line with guidance from Canada’s independent administrative tribunal for transportation which said in March that the country’s airlines can issue vouchers or credit instead of refunds, for flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Those with non-refundable tickets can choose to receive either a travel voucher, which now has no expiry date and is fully transferable, or to convert the value of their ticket into Aerpolan Miles, “with 65 per cent more value versus the normal rate for buying Miles”.

For more information on the revised policy, click here.

Commenting on the news Lucie Guillemette, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Air Canada, said:

“As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, during which as much as 95 per cent of our flights stopped operating and which has left us flying to less than half last year’s destinations, our customers are expressing their eagerness to travel, where it is safe to do so.

“We are accordingly gradually opening for sale flights for the summer and beyond as we rebuild our network, leveraging our strong position as a global airline. Air Canada is ready for take-off, and we look forward to welcoming our customers onboard.”

Earlier this month Air Canada announced plans to accelerate the retirement of 79 B767, A319 and E190 aircraft from its fleet, with CEO Calin Rovinescu warning that the carrier expects it to take “at least three years to recover to 2019 levels of revenue and capacity”.