More Canadian airports to accept international flights from end-Nov

An airplane takes off from Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto

(Reuters) - Canada will allow international flights to land at more airports from end-November, officials announced on Tuesday, saying strict vaccination requirements for travelers had made it possible to loosen restrictions.

Ten Canadian airports are currently accepting international flights and Transport Canada said it would add eight more, including St John's, Victoria, Saskatoon and Regina.

"Increased vaccination levels have allowed us to safely re-open these additional Canadian airports to international passenger flights," Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement.

Canada has a vaccine mandate policy going into effect from Nov. 30 for travelers, according to which a negative COVID-19 test will not be accepted as a replacement for proof of vaccination.

At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, only four airports were open for returning international flights - Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

The United States has also announced new vaccine requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States, beginning Nov. 8.

Canadian Airports Council President Daniel-Robert Gooch said international flights should also be allowed to land at regional airports that connect remote and northern communities.

"One of the most important lessons from COVID was how important smaller regional airports are to the entire network," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)