With so few people flying, it's no surprise airlines are cutting flights: N.B. MP
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Starting next month, the lone commercial flight arriving and departing daily from New Brunswick's Saint John Airport will be suspended indefinitely.
Air Canada has announced another round of service cuts for the already-struggling Atlantic Canadian airline industry, with the airports in Sydney, N.S., and Saint John, N.B., hardest hit by the cuts.
"We were actually well on our way to having our best year ever in 2020," said Derrick Stanford, the CEO of the Saint John Airport. "For a few years in a row, Saint John was the fastest growing airport in Atlantic Canada."
But it's a different scene at YSJ these days. Starting on Jan. 11, it will only be open for private air service and medical emergencies.
Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long says the news was disappointing, but not surprising, especially given that many people don't want to fly during a pandemic.
"Let's not forget, Air Canada is down 92 per cent, and when we see numbers like less than 200 people flew last week in New Brunswick, that is across the whole province," Long said.
Officials say other issues at play include the 14-day isolation period, a need for additional testing measures, and a lack of destinations for travellers.
"Are we going to have planes land that are going to take off empty? Is that what this solves?" said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs. "So where do we put the money to get value?"
In Cape Breton, where Air Canada is suspending all flights, the situation is being described as a catastophic blow to the island.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is calling the cuts "devastating."
"It's my hope that the national government will lay out a program specific to airlines to ensure both of our major carriers and others are still here to find our way back to a competitive market when people start travelling again," McNeil said.
Stanford, who is also the president of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association, also says that they will be meeting with federal officials this week to learn more about a support package for medium-sized regional airports -- something he says is encouraging.