Airports in Atlantic Canada are dealing with one other “main blow” as a result of COVID-19 pandemic after WestJet introduced Wednesday that it’ll quickly now not fly to Moncton, N.B., Fredericton, Sydney, N.S., and Charlottetown and can drastically in the reduction of its service to St. John’s and Halifax.
“It is a main blow … Any time you lose a service, that is very difficult,” mentioned Mike MacKinnon, CEO of the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport.
“It is not an sudden state of affairs. I believe the writing was on the wall for a while, given the restrictive journey insurance policies, the low passenger demand and among the different components concerned.”
The Calgary-based airline mentioned it’s eliminating 100 flights, which symbolize about 80 per cent of its service into and out of Atlantic Canada.
“We’re simply discovering that the demand just isn’t there,” mentioned Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s vice-president of communications. “The Atlantic Canada bubble makes it tremendously troublesome for individuals to maneuver forwards and backwards to these locations in Atlantic Canada, and recognizing that we’re merely shedding a substantial amount of cash day by day that we’re working there.”
“So till there’s something like a vaccine or a testing regime that permits us to see that bubble diminished or lifted, we have got no alternative however to make the troublesome resolution.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, solely residents residing inside the 4 Atlantic provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador — might journey freely inside the Atlantic bubble with out the necessity to isolate. Canadians coming from outdoors the bubble should self-isolate for 14 days.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs mentioned he and the opposite Atlantic premiers don’t plan to open the area to the remainder of Canada any time quickly, as a big variety of instances proceed to be reported in Quebec and Ontario.
“This is not the time that we will simply throw [away] what has saved us protected thus far,” Higgs instructed CBC’s Energy and Politics Wednesday night. “We do hope to proceed to maneuver ahead and in the end get our airports again in enterprise or to look strategically at get the very best connection for our residents right here in our province.”
The brand new route cancellations imply that the airline will shutter its operations at the airports in Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton and Sydney.
The routes will likely be cancelled as of Nov. 2, and as a outcome about 100 jobs will likely be eradicated. Earlier this summer time, Air Canada cancelled 30 routes, most of which had been in Atlantic Canada.
WestJet will now solely fly three routes inside and out of doors of Atlantic Canada — to St. John’s, Calgary and Toronto — all out of the Halifax Stanfield Worldwide Airport.
“The largest blow to Halifax Stanfield as a part of immediately’s announcement is the discount of key connections that now we have inside our personal province to Sydney, in addition to to our nation’s capital of Ottawa,” mentioned Tiffany Chase, the spokesperson for the Halifax airport.
“We have labored very laborious over a lot of years to determine a really sturdy community inside our area and to the remainder of Canada, the [United States] and Europe. … We anticipate that it will likely be very troublesome and take fairly a little bit of time to get a few of these providers again, if ever.”
Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, mentioned the cuts do not come as a shock.
“We see the numbers coming and going within the airport today,” he mentioned.
“We see that WestJet has considerably diminished their schedule to Charlottetown over the previous variety of months, and the demand is just not there for them to hold passengers at this second — given the present journey restrictions and the situations with the pandemic.”
Each the Sydney and Charlottetown airports have been counting on capital reserves since March. Now the lack of WestJet as a service will solely scale back income additional.
“We, together with different airports, are hoping and optimistic that the federal authorities might present some sectoral particular aid for each the airline business and the airports, as a result of it is actually wanted at a time proper now the place air journey is coming to an entire standstill,” Newson mentioned.
Newson mentioned the Charlottetown airport does have sufficient capital reserves to get by means of a few years, and each he and MacKinnon are assured the cuts are solely short-term.
“We’re hopeful that as issues enhance — possibly [as] restrictions get lifted, which we’re hoping will occur — that they will be again in service someday sooner or later,” MacKinnon mentioned.
“However we won’t predict — I do not assume anybody in 2020 can predict what’s going to occur.”
Following WestJet’s announcement, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil known as on the federal authorities to create a nationwide technique to guard air journey within the area.
“We imagine the nationwide authorities must be on the desk to acknowledge that to ensure that us to recuperate economically, our biggest success of recovering economically after COVID, will likely be with a vibrant air service that may embrace in our area, each Air Canada, WestJet and others,” McNeil mentioned at a information convention Wednesday.
Higgs, in the meantime, mentioned he spoke to Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc about the potential for a stimulus bundle for the air journey business, however mentioned the federal authorities hasn’t determined what the bundle may seem like.
“All of us are involved about this transfer from WestJet … however the truth that they did it is as a result of the planes are empty,” Higgs mentioned.