As the pandemic stretches on and some provinces implement curfews and stay-at-home orders, Canadian airlines continue to see a drastic drop in revenue. Thousands of workers have been laid off or furloughed, and Air Canada is cutting flights to destinations both at home and abroad.
Over the holidays, Maritimers struggled with news the airline would be suspending all flights to Sydney, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick until a later date. That change took effect this week, and on Wednesday, Air Canada announced more – including two cities in British Columbia.
Starting Jan. 23, Air Canada will no longer fly from Vancouver to Prince Rupert or Kamloops, a change that’s expected to last at least until March.
Ken Christian, the mayor of Kamloops, says he’s disappointed in the airline’s decision to end service from Vancouver.
“This is not good news for Kamloops, or the region,” he says. “It’s going to delay our recovery, quite frankly, and I am disappointed that they didn’t see fit to at least keep that minimum service level available to us and our residents.”
He says Sun Peaks Resort, Thompson Rivers University, the B.C. Lottery Corporation and other businesses in the region rely on that connection the world.
“If you ever doubted why airports are important to local communities, just see that air service discontinued and you start to see taxi drivers, wait staff, hoteliers, everyone suffering,” he says. “I understand that it’s difficult for air carriers. But you don’t abandon a community of 100,000 people.”
Ed Ratuski, managing director of the Kamloops Airport, says the announcement wasn’t a total surprise: He’s seen an 85 per cent drop in the number of passengers coming through compared to previous years.
“The news wasn’t completely unexpected given the recent travel restrictions that were put in place over the holiday season by the federal government,” he says. “This… will definitely delay our recovery, in terms of our COVID response. We were looking towards an accelerated recovery in the second and third quarters of 2021, but with the additional travel restrictions, the delays in the rollout of the vaccine – that’s what’s basically going to delay our recovery.”
Christian says he’s planning to ask WestJet and some of the smaller carriers if they’d like to pick up the route that’s been cut.
“This is a disappointment,” he says. “But we’ll work through it.”
Air Canada declined CTV’s request for an interview. In the release announcing the change, the airline said about 1,700 jobs would be impacted by the latest cuts, which include ceasing service on Jan. 23 to the following destinations:
Airport stations closing in Canada:
- Fredericton, New Brunswick
- Gander, Newfoundland
- Goose Bay, Newfoundland
- Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
- Kamloops, British Columbia
- Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Latest domestic routes suspended:
- Goose Bay–Halifax
- Prince Rupert-Vancouver
- Quebec City-Toronto
- St. John’s-Toronto
Transborder routes suspended
- Calgary to Maui
- Montreal to Denver, Houston, Orlando
- Toronto to Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Washington (Dulles)
- Vancouver to Honolulu (until April), Maui (until mid-February)
International flights suspended
- Montreal to Barbados, Casablanca, Cozumel, Samana, San Jose (Costa Rica), Santa Clara, Turks & Caicos, Nassau, Sao Paulo, Puerto Vallarta
- Toronto to Cozumel, Curacao, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Paris, Saint Lucia, Santa Clara, St. Vincent, Zurich
- Vancouver to Los Cabos, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta
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