While the governments of Quebec and Canada continue to advise against any non-essential stay abroad, the country’s airlines and tour operators are increasing the tempting offers to encourage as many Quebeckers as possible to travel.
A situation which, without being illegal, raises according to experts, a number of ethical questions in the current context of the pandemic.
“It is not because it is allowed that it is for all that moral”, slice moreover the professor of management of the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and specialist in aviation issues, Mehran Ebrahimi.
Over 50% off
No need to search long to find unbeatable plane tickets or vacation packages from Montreal. Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing, all officially in difficulty, sell their trips at cut prices often exceeding 50%.
Transat, for example, is offering a seven-day package to Pullman Cayo Coco, a 5-star Cuban establishment, for $ 889 per person, all taxes included.
This is a 56% (or $ 1,147) discount off the regular rate of $ 2,036 per person, including round-trip transportation, accommodation, food and unlimited alcohol for one week .
Sunwing, for its part, is offering a similar stay in January at a 5-star all-inclusive in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for $ 1,035 per person. This is a 59% discount off the regular rate of $ 2,495 per person.
Air Canada is doing round trips to Paris in January for little more than $ 700 and one-way trips, among others, to Fort Lauderdales at $ 160.
Ethics and public safety
These are the kinds of promotions that hit their mark, based on the number of vacationers who left Montreal-Trudeau airport recently.
Since December 14, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) has recorded an average of 8,000 passengers per day at Montréal-Trudeau, compared to a daily average of 5,300 in November. In 2019, ADM recorded an average over the year of 56,630 passengers per day.
In the context of the pandemic, the Director General of the Institute for Confidence in Organizations (ICO), Donald Riendeau, wonders about the ethical considerations that led to the adoption of such marketing strategies by carriers and tour operators.
“These companies of course have a social responsibility. In this time of hyper-spreading the virus, it is even becoming a public safety issue, he says. But at the same time they must survive (for their employees, managers and shareholders) ”. A reality that prevents him from blaming only the airlines.
His opinion is close to that of UQAM’s professor of management, Mehran Ebrahimi who, without completely absolving carriers, still speaks of a shared responsibility between airlines, governments and travelers.
“Through these promotions, airlines are creating conditions that encourage travelers to be even more exposed to the virus,” he said. In the current context, the strategy seems to him as questionable as that of a merchant who would allow himself to offer pastries at low prices to candidates, fresh out of a weight-loss diet program.
“There is something immoral about their business practice in the context where authorities have been asking for weeks to avoid such trips. But we would probably not be there if our elected officials had assumed their responsibilities and had the courage to close the airports. (…) The inaction that Ottawa has shown vis-à-vis the problems of the airline industry for ten months is incredible. “
According to Donald Riendeau of the ICO, it is contradictory “that our governments discourage citizens from traveling and at the same time leave airports open”. In his opinion, it would have been possible to come to an agreement with the airlines to avoid this kind of situation during a period of strong outbreak.
Yesterday, the Journal revealed, moreover, with supporting photos, that basic sanitary measures (distancing, washing hands, wearing the brand) were little observed by Quebecers who had left to rest in Mexico in recent days.
For two weeks, 17 passenger planes have landed in Montreal with one or more passengers infected with Covid-19 on board. Of the number, three flights arrived from Paris, the city of origin of the largest number of “infected” devices identified in Montreal by the Canadian public health authorities.