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Atlantic Canada’s airports were advised of more air service suspensions by Air Canada that will become effective January 23, 2021. Both federal and provincial government imposed travel restrictions are significantly impacting the air sector.
Air Canada advised that effective January 23rd, 2021, it will be suspending all service until further notice in Gander N.L., Goose Bay N.L. and Fredericton N.B.
The announcement comes on the heels of this week’s Air Canada service suspensions in Sydney and Saint John, WestJet’s October suspension of 80 percent of Atlantic Canada capacity, Air Canada’s June suspension of service in Bathurst and Wabush, and Air Canada’s suspension of 14 routes from the region indefinitely.
Pasher says, “We cannot just flip a switch to turn air service back on when we get to the other side of this pandemic.” We are going to have a long hard road ahead of us to rebuild air access for our region. Repercussions of these cuts will be felt for years to come in many Atlantic Canada cities, towns and rural communities.”
Atlantic Canada’s Airports have been calling on the federal government to support the air sector to get through this period of no air service. “We are one of the hardest hit sectors, you cannot layer restriction upon restriction on an industry and not provide financial support required to get through.” It is ten months into this crisis and Canada is the only G7 country that has not provided sectoral support to airlines. Canada needs healthy air carriers; they are essential to our economy.
According to Pasher, the industry has been calling for federal support for Canada’s airlines for months now. “The Air Sector was mentioned in the Fall Economic Statement released on November 30th, we are grateful for that support and we are working through the process with government to determine the support that will be available for airports in this region. Unfortunately though, there was not enough support for medium size or large airports and no news for air carriers other than the wage subsidy support. Half of the employees in our industry are out of work, and as a hardest hit sector, more support is urgently needed for airports and airlines in order to get through this pandemic.”
Pasher noted “When the airline industry contracts, smaller communities are hit hardest and we have seen this time and time again throughout the pandemic. The biggest reason for today’s cuts is a combination of the domestic travel restrictions unique to our region and rising COVID cases across the country, which understandably, impacts demand. Industry experts say it could take up to a year until the majority of the population is vaccinated, this sector cannot wait that long to begin recovery. There are safe ways to restart this sector. Our provinces need to implement testing protocols to better understand the level of COVID-19 in our communities and help rebuild consumer confidence in this sector, which is why we have been calling for testing pilot programs at our region’s airports.
“This is the fourth round of air service cuts in our region in 10 months,” says Monette Pasher, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association. “Government imposed travel restrictions federally and provincially are severely impacting the air sector right now. Government is telling us to stay home and stay put, but the reality is our sector needs financial support to get through this time to support the essential service airlines and airports provide.”