FlightHub has partnered with 4Ukraine.ca, a non-profit organization, to offer free flights from Europe to Canada for Ukrainian refugees.
The Montreal-based online travel agency has made an initial commitment of $100,000 to its Ukraine Aid program, which roughly corresponds to 100 long-haul flights.
As of today, three groups of Ukrainian refugees have flown to Vancouver as a part of the program. The first was a couple who arrived on May 11, followed by a family who arrived this Monday.
Those participating in the program will go through “a rigorous vetting process that includes video interviews, travel document review, host family background checks, and job prospecting” to ensure their well-being and preparedness, said 4Ukraine.ca.
According to feedback from participants, the longest part of the process is before the flight. Information provided to FlightHub and 4Ukraine.ca states that it currently takes around four to eight weeks to obtain a visa under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program, less so for travellers without children.
“Once they land in a Canadian airport, it then takes a few hours to receive the work or study permit,” said Anna Chif, co-founder of 4Ukraine.ca.
A separate fundraiser to collect Aeroplan points is also expected to begin offering free commercial flights for Ukrainians in need in June.
The Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund was launched by the federal government in a partnership with Air Canada and U.S. non-profit organizations Miles4Migrants and the Shapiro Foundation. Over 146 million points have been collected so far, including the 100 million points donated by Air Canada in April.