Air Canada is suspending all direct flights from Vancouver International Airport, as well as Toronto and Montreal, to Beijing and Shanghai for one month.
The last of the direct flights will depart Canadian airports Wednesday, with the returning flights leaving Beijing and Shanghai Thursday, Jan. 30, according to the airline.
Flights will then be suspended until Feb. 29.
“Affected customers will be notified and offered options, including travel on other carriers where available, or a full refund,” reads Air Canada’s announcement.
“Air Canada regrets this situation and apologizes for the serious disruption to our customers’ travel plans.”
The airline said it is suspending flights in accordance with the federal government’s travel avisory.
That advisory warns Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to mainland China due to travel restrictions and quarantines there, which have been put in place to limit the spread of novel coronavirus.
The travel advisory also says to avoid all travel to Hubei province, including Wuhan and the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou.
Other airlines, including British Airways and several Asian carriers, have also halted flights to China.
Air Canada said it is closely monitoring the evolving situtation in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada and Global Affairs, adding it will adjust its schedule as needed.
During the winter season, YVR typically has 52 flights per week to mainland China to nine different cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, according to a spokesperson for the airport. In addition to the two direct routes flown by Air Canada, these flights are operated by Air China and other Chinese airlines.
The Richmond News has asked Air Canada how many of the suspended flights are operated out of YVR.
Coronavirus has now infected more than 6,000 people — with three confirmed cases in Canada — and caused 132 deaths in China, still lower than the 349 people who were killed by Sars in China in 2002 – 2003.
On Tuesday, B.C. confirmed its first case of coronavirus — a man in his 40s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which stretches from Richmond to Sea-to-Sky and Bella Coola.
The Canadian resident travelled to Wuhan, where the virus originated a few weeks ago, according to provincial health officials, and returned via Vancouver International Airport last week. He is currently being monitored, in isolation, at his home.
Canada announced Wednesday that it has a plane being prepared to fly Canadians out of Wuhan, once the government secures co-operation from China.
- With files from Alan Campbell and the Canadian Press
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Blackstone limits withdrawals from its US$69-billion REIT – The Globe and Mail
Blackstone Inc limited withdrawals from its $69 billion real estate income trust (REIT) on Thursday after receiving too many redemption requests, an unprecedented blow to a franchise that helped it turn into an asset management behemoth.
The curbs in redemptions came because they hit pre-set limits, rather than Blackstone setting the redemption limits on the day. Nonetheless, they fuelled investor concerns about the future of the REIT, which makes up about 17% of Blackstone’s earnings. Blackstone shares ended trading down 7.1% on the news.
Investors in the REIT, which is not publicly traded, have been growing concerned that Blackstone has been slow to adjust the vehicle’s valuation to that of publicly-traded REITs, which have taken a hit amid rising interest rates, a source close to the fund said. Rising interest rates weigh on real estate values because they make financing them more expensive.
Blackstone has reported a 9.3% year-to-date return for its REIT, net of fees, while the publicly-traded REIT index is down 3.02% in the same period. This outperformance has some investors questioning how Blackstone comes up with the valuation of its REIT, said Alex Snyder, a portfolio manager at CenterSquare Investment Management LLC in Philadelphia.
“People are taking profits at the value Blackstone says their Blackstone REIT shares are at,” said Snyder.
A Blackstone spokesperson declined to comment on how Blackstone values its REIT but said its portfolio was concentrated in rental housing and logistics and relied on a long-term fixed rate debt structure, making it resilient.
“Our business is built on performance, not fund flows, and performance is rock solid,” the spokesperson said.
Two sources familiar with the matter said turmoil in the Asian market, fuelled by concerns about China’s economic prospects and political stability, contributed to the redemptions. The majority of investors redeeming were from Asia and needed the liquidity, they said.
Blackstone said it would curb withdrawals from its REIT franchise after it received redemption requests in November greater than 2% of its monthly net asset value and 5% of its quarterly net asset value.
Analysts said that Blackstone’s REIT runs the risk of getting caught in a spiral of selling assets to meet redemptions if it cannot regain the trust of many of its investors. On Thursday, the firm said the REIT had agreed to sell its 49.9% interest in two Las Vegas casinos for $1.27 billion.
“The impact on Blackstone depends on whether the REIT is able to stabilize its net asset value over time, or is forced to enter an extended run-off scenario, with significant asset sales and ongoing redemption backlog – too early to tell, in our view,” BMO Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note.
Big Six bank earnings show mixed bag for Canadian economy – CTV News
The most recent earnings reports from Canada’s big banks are showing signs that the Canadian economy is slowing down ahead of a potential recession, with some signs of optimism.
The Big Six banks – RBC, TD, CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO and National Bank – all released their Q4 2022 reports this week. Five out of the six saw their profits dip compared to last year and three fell short of their earnings expectations.
Michael Morrow, managing director of mergers and acquisitions and capital markets at financial firm BDO Canada, says high inflation, lower capital markets activity and rising loan-loss provisions are all putting pressure on the big banks.
High inflation has meant higher operating costs – including higher staffing costs amid a tight labour market – that has cut into their margins, Morrow said. Meanwhile, rising interest rates and economic uncertainties have slowed investment and led to lower capital markets activity.
“Capital markets activity continues to be a drag on all of the banks, particularly those that have a higher concentration of capital markets activity versus regular retail-related activity,” Morrow said.
RBC CEO Dave McKay said on an earnings call on Wednesday the bank is bracing for a “brief and moderate recession.”
In anticipation of an economic downturn, the big banks are also increasing their loan-loss provisions, which refers to money set aside to cover bad loans.
“As the bank’s worry about the economic performance of the Canadian economy, what that might mean is more loan losses going forward. And so their provisions every quarter has been creeping up, including this quarter,” Morrow said.
“It’s definitely a leading indicator in terms of where we think the Canadian economy will be next year and where the where the risks lie.”
Loan-loss provisions especially weighed heavily on CIBC, which set provisions for credit losses for the three-month period of $436 million, up from $78 million in the same quarter last year. CIBC missed its earnings expectations by over 19 per cent.
“As we look ahead to 2023, global economic growth is expected to be slower as central banks continue with their monetary policy tightening to tame inflation,” said CIBC CEO Victor Dodig on an earnings call on Thursday.
“In response to these headwinds … we are going to continue to take actions to reposition our business to adjust to these new realities, but also continue to grow our client franchise and moderate our expense growth.”
But despite these so-called headwinds, Morrow believes there is still good news to be gleaned from these results. Most of the Big Six are increasing their dividend rates for shareholders, which Morrow says “provides us with a view of confidence in the stability of the banks and their earnings profile.”
“If they’re increasing dividend rates, then that’s certainly an indication that they feel that the business and their capital ratios are going to be able to not only withstand this downturn, but continue to thrive through the year, through the back half of next year,” he explained.
On top of that, RBC announced it would be taking over HSBC’s Canadian operations in a $13.5 billion deal, pending regulatory approval. Morrow says he sees the purchase as a “positive vote of confidence for the Canadian economy,” especially given the fact that RBC is paying a premium price for the acquisition. The bank is paying 9.4 times HSBC Canada’s 2024 adjusted earnings.
“Certainly, you know, it gleans to the confidence that RBC has within the within the Canadian lending market. And if there were certain doubts in the Canadian market, you wouldn’t see these participants paying premiums in the marketplace at this point in the cycle,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press and Reuters
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