SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Air Canada customers are now eligible for refunds for flights they didn't take because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the volume of calls has already picked up at a Saint John call centre.

"Since (Tuesday), there's been overtime offered in all of the Air Canada call centres just because of the sheer volume," said Tammy Moore, the Unifor Local 2002 Atlantic bargaining rep. "It's thousands of people calling in from everywhere looking for refunds."

Back in February, 83 employees at the Air Canada call centre in the city were given layoff notices and the month before that, 15 employees had been laid off.

The union said at the time that if a federal relief package included ticket refunds, that the job cuts may be reversed because of the need to process them.

Moore said Wednesday she expects a conversation to take place soon with the company.

"I would assume sooner than later we'll be speaking with the company of having some members brought back from layoffs, on recall," Mooresaid.

The agreement also means that parts of Atlantic Canada will see their flight service restored.

Under the deal, Air Canada has to resume regional routes in 13 locations including here in Saint John.

"We haven't had commercial flights since Jan. 11, so we're quite excited to welcome passengers back to our terminal," said Greg Hierlihy, the interim president of the Saint John airport.

Also included on that list is Bathurst, N.B., Fredericton and Sydney, N.S.

"It's nice to be moving towards that sign of economic recovery and I think this is a really good sign that the government recognizes the importance of the air sector," said Monette Pasherof the Atlantic Canada Airports Association.