Resumption of flights to Maritime airports delayed because of spike in COVID-19 cases
SYDNEY, N.S. -- It's been more than three months since the last commercial flight touched the tarmac at the Sydney airport -- and now it looks like it could be a while longer before the service returns.
"Air Canada has communicated that the Toronto flight that was scheduled to start June 2 is now pushed back to June 26," said Sydney airport CEO Mike MacKinnon.
Flights to Halifax will not start now until at least July 1.
PAL Airlines who had been planning to start flights three times a week from Sydney to Halifax on May 31, have also been grounded.
"Nobody wants to restart service and then have to shut it down again," MacKinnon said. "I'd rather we do it right and when the time is right and when we can do it safely with minimal disruptions going forward."
The interim CEO at the Saint John Airport was hoping flights would be returning next month, but Greg Heirlihy worries about rising case numbers and restrictions in Nova Scotia.
"For us, the rising case numbers in certain spots around Canada are certainly a concern," Heirlihy said. "We understand why that would delay the restart, but we're very hopeful in terms of the vaccination rate and how they're going across the country."
At Halifax Stanfield, a spokesperson says there remains a lot of uncertainty as to when non-essential travel can resume.
Most of the airlines that serve the Halifax airport have posted summer schedules that reflect ramping service up from current levels beginning later in June to coincide with publicized vaccination schedules across the country.
MacKinnon says as of right now there are no plans to do testing at the airport once flights resume, but he says that's something he's been in conversation with public health.
"We abide by what the health department tells us we should be doing, and what they want to do," said MacKinnon. "So if they feel that testing is needed, we're definitely supportive and ready to do it."
For now, MacKinnon says the focus is on vaccination rates, so Maritimers will be able to travel safely soon.