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Private Planes From Abroad Keep Landing In Small Canadian Airports Despite COVID-19 Rules

Many of these smaller airports do not have quarantine hotels nearby.

Hundreds of private aircraft from abroad continue to land in smaller Canadian airports despite Canada's travel rules, according to a new report.

On May 12, CBC News shared data from flight tracking company FlightAware showing that hundreds of private international flights had arrived in smaller Canadian airports that don't have designated quarantine hotels. This includes flights from places like Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo and Brazil, among others.

Between February 22 and April 26, 884 private aircraft had landed from abroad at airports in cities like Hamilton, Ottawa, London, ON, Kelowna, B.C., St. John's and Edmonton.

The data includes luxury and executive private jets, recreational aircraft and helicopters.

During the same time period, 1,618 private flights also landed at the four airports approved by the federal government, many of which were from Florida.

So, what are Canada's current travel rules?

As of February 22, 2021, the federal government requires all incoming international air travel to be directed to four major airports: Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver.

These four locations have a quarantine hotel system in place. In addition to providing a pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test, all incoming passengers must take a second test on arrival in Canada, quarantine at a government-approved hotel and take a third test on their eighth day post-arrival.

Are rules being broken?

In a statement to Narcity, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Public Safety Canada said that travellers arriving by private aircraft are required to follow the same rules as everybody else.

That said, privately-owned "general aviation" aircraft are exempt from the rule that directs flights to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver. They are permitted to land in any Canadian airport designated as an authorized Airport of Entry with an open CBSA office.

The pilot and passengers on board these flights are asked to follow all public health measures as directed by the CBSA or quarantine officer at the airport.