Josh Pringle, Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist | Saturday, July 31, 2021
The Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (David Kawai/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA — Ottawa travellers have a new option to travel to Canada’s east coast.
PAL Airlines launched service out of the Ottawa International Airport this week, with service to Moncton and Fredericton, New Brunswick. Flights to both cities will continue on to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
PAL Airlines is a St. John’s based independent operator with roots in Canada’s east coast.
“Including YOW in their offering recognizes the importance of Canada’s capital region and its link to the east coast,” said Mark Laroche, President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority.
“We look forward to being a part of PAL’s extensive Atlantic Canada network and reconnecting family and friends from both regions.”
Ottawa-Moncton-St. John’s service will operate Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Ottawa-Fredericton-St. John’s service will operate Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The Fredericton International Airport Authority Inc. is getting federal help to offset what it says is a $15-million loss in revenue it suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ottawa is giving the airport authority $3.8 million to help it maintain services and cover expenses in light of a severe drop in the number of flights going through the airport in the past year-and-a-half, said Johanne Gallant, president and CEO of the airport authority.
“So this will help with expenses, right. We’ve been using reserve money — and reserve money, that’s the fund for safety capital projects, so that [$3.8 million] is also helping preserve the reserve dollars and also help cover expenses with all the losses,” Gallant said.
The Fredericton International Airport, along with others in the province, saw a drastic reduction in flight traffic due to restrictions on travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flights by Air Canada and WestJet, which both suspended services at the airport for months, have returned as of June with the easing of restrictions, but Gallant said traffic at the airport still isn’t as high as it was before the pandemic.
“We have our carriers back and the frequency is not where it was pre-pandemic. However, as we continue, as people start traveling more, we’re going to see more frequency. So definitely optimistic for the future.”
Gallant said the airport authority had to lay off almost half of its 28 direct employees as a result of the 90 per cent drop in traffic. In recent weeks, however, it’s been able to rehire, with about 23 now back on the job, thanks in part to the federal Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
A news release by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency said the “non-repayable contribution” of $3.8 million will allow the airport to maintain essential services and collaborate with carriers to continue or re-establish routes to the region, as well as sustain 16 jobs.
“I look forward to seeing the Fredericton International Airport thriving once again, bringing people from far and wide to enjoy all we have to offer here in the capital city,” said Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, in the release.
The Fredericton International Airport took one step toward the new normal as PAL Airline’s first flight landed on the tarmac Monday.
It was a flight from Newfoundland and Labrador provided by the new carrier and one of the first to fly in since the COVID-19 pandemic placed heavy restrictions on travel — both by land and air.
“We’re very excited for the launch of our Fredericton flight,” said PAL Airlines sales manager Stephen Short in an interview Monday. “The aircraft is en route with a full load on board of people excited to visit the Atlantic Bubble in New Brunswick.”
PAL Airlines, with headquarters in St. John’s, has been in the business for 40 years. He said the airline helped transport medical supplies and health care workers and felt less of an impact than other small airlines.
“We’re looking forward to future growth,” he said. “We’ll see where the skies take us.”
The demand for a direct flight from Newfoundland and Labrador has been high, the company added. Even more now as families look to reunite.
Johanne Gallant, the president and CEO of the Fredericton International Airport, said she couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she awaited the first PAL flight.
“I think like everybody else, it’s been difficult,” she said of the past 15 months. “It’s been very slow, and now we are seeing pick up into the travel industry.
“People want to go see friends and relatives and travel, and as the vaccination rollout is happening and our path to green, it’s really helping us get started again.”
WestJet announced last weekend it would resume flights, with Air Canada doing the same soon, Gallant said.
The flight operates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Short said. It will fly from Fredericton to Deer Lake and then to St. John’s.
PAL Airlines are also planning to launch flights from Fredericton to Ottawa and Fredericton to Halifax on July 30.
Mayor Kate Rogers was pleased to see the flight happened today. She took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony after the plane landed.
“On behalf of the City of Fredericton, I am excited to welcome PAL Airlines to our community and the newly renovated and expanded Fredericton International Airport,” she said.
Airline to restart seven routes across Atlantic Canada by July 2
New non-stop service between Calgary-Charlottetown to launch on July 29
CALGARY, AB, June 25, 2021 /CNW/ -WestJet is further restoring Atlantic Canada’s domestic and interprovincial connectivity with the restart of seven routes to and from destinations across Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The airline today also announced it will launch its new non-stop service to Charlottetown from Calgary on July 29. Full schedule details and resumption dates are outlined below.
“We continue to work towards the restoration of our pre-COVID domestic network to ensure that when our guests are ready to travel, we are there for them,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “WestJet remains committed to building back stronger for the betterment of all Canadians and as we look ahead to reconnecting friends, family and loved ones, the safe restart of travel is essential to Canada’s economic recovery.”
Connecting Prince Edward Island to Alberta non-stop
After being delayed due to the pandemic, WestJet will bridge new domestic connections between the east and the west with the introduction of new twice-weekly non-stop service between Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Calgary beginning July 29. The service connecting the two provinces was previously scheduled to start in June 2020.
WestJet’s investments are critical to ensuring Atlantic Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and by the end of June, the airline is set to restore commercial air service to Sydney, N.S., Deer Lake and Gander, Nfld., with the restart of flights from Halifax and Toronto.
“As WestJet leads the restart of travel across the Atlantic region, it is critical that we get clarity and guidance on travel policies from the federal government. The safe return of visitors to and from the region is key to recovery and we thank the Atlantic Premiers and their governments for the work they have done to prioritize the safe restart of travel. WestJet remains committed to affordably connecting Atlantic Canada to the rest of the country and the world,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President.
This July, WestJet will offer non-stop service to Atlantic Canada from Halifax to six cities, from St. John’s to three cities, from Charlottetown to two cities and from Moncton, Fredericton, Deer Lake, Gander and Sydney to one city.
Love Where You’re Going Again – WestJet’s Latest Video
For more than 17 months, Canadians from coast-to-coast have been separated from the people and places they love. WestJet’s latest brand moment is a reminder to Canadians that it’s time to love where they’re going, again.
Atlantic Canada route restarts
Route restart date
Charlottetown – Toronto
June 25, 2021
Fredericton – Toronto
June 26, 2021
Deer Lake – Toronto
June 27, 2021
Halifax – Sydney
June 28, 2021
Gander – Halifax
June 30, 2021
Moncton – Toronto
July 1, 2021
Halifax – Edmonton
July 2, 2021
Charlottetown – Calgary *
July 29, 2021
In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.
Carrier adding 12 new routes, promising fares as low as $69
CBC News · Jun 17, 2021
A Newfoundland and Labrador regional airline is stepping up to fill the void left by Air Canada’s departure from the majority of its routes in the province.
PAL Airlines, which flies small aircraft out of airports across the province, is on the brink of the largest expansion in the company’s history, adding 12 new routes to its schedule. The airline will unveil service to Halifax, Fredericton, Saint John, Charlottetown, Ottawa and several Quebec destinations.
They’ll be rolling out the new routes over the course of the summer as pandemic restrictions lift, says Janine Browne, the airline’s sales director.
Those routes had previously been serviced by Air Canada, which slashed flights to smaller communities across the country over the last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A spokesperson told CBC News in January that the airline’s overall capacity was down 80 per cent from the previous year at the time.
The pandemic has been “devastating” for the industry, Browne said, noting PAL managed to “weather the storm.”
“We were able … to continue serving all of our regions,” Browne said. “This is an essential service for many of the communities and towns and cities that we serve.”
While Air Canada announced Tuesday it will be reestablishing some routes in the province, PAL’s expansion breathes life into airports still grappling with the pandemic.
“Air access is absolutely essential to economic recovery,” she said.
The expansion also offers customers an easier travel experience, Browne suggests, with more connecting destinations and partnerships with both WestJet and Air Canada — allowing passengers to buy one ticket and check their luggage only once during their trip.
Ottawa eyeing steep fares
But even as provinces set their reopening plans in motion for this summer, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians face significantly fewer travel options, with remaining flights to major domestic destinations costing more than usual.
The price hike prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to tell local business owners earlier this month that Ottawa believed fares would fall as demand rises.
“We’re watching very closely on connections, we’re watching very closely on reopening, we’re watching the prices, we’re watching tourism,” Trudeau told the St. John’s Board of Trade.
Most extensive domestic schedule supports Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector
Includes three new routes, re-established routes plus Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy Class cabins on select transcontinental routes
New refund policy gives additional peace of mind
MONTREAL, June 15, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada’s domestic peak summer schedule beginning at the end of June has been developed to advance the country’s economic recovery and support Canada’s tourism and hospitality businesses during the important summer period. Three new domestic Canada routes, service to 50 Canadian airports, the re-establishment of select regional routes, and wide-body aircraft featuring Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy Class on select transcontinental routes are included. Seats with attractive pricing in all cabins are available for purchase now at aircanada.com, via the Air Canada App, Air Canada’s Contact Centres and travel agencies.
“With Canada’s ongoing vaccine roll-out acceleration together with various provincial governments’ reopening plans that include travel, this summer is looking brighter. As customers are ready to travel, Air Canada is taking a leadership position to support our partners in Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector with service to 50 destinations from coast to coast, the re-start of regional services and new, non-stop flights,” said Mark Galardo, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management at Air Canada.
“We are especially proud that our new state-of-the-art, Canadian-manufactured Airbus A220 aircraft will be operating across Canada. With our industry-leading CleanCare+ bio-safety protocols, promotional fares including for our premium cabins, compelling Aeroplan opportunities, and our new refund policy offering additional peace of mind, customers can book Air Canada with confidence. We look forward to welcoming you onboard when you’re ready to fly,” concluded Mr. Galardo.
Air Canada’s new refund policy provides customers an option for a refund to the original form of payment in instances where Air Canada cancels their flight or reschedules the departure time by more than three hours, irrespective of the reason. Air Canada customers will also have the option of accepting an Air Canada Travel Voucher or Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus. Normal fare rules will apply when customers make voluntary changes to non-affected flights.
New route details:
Jul 1, 2021
3x Weekly July4x Weekly Aug
June 26, 2021
Aug 1, 2021
Resumption of services:
Gander – Halifax
Gander – Toronto
St. John’s – Toronto
Goose Bay – St. John’s
Deer Lake – Halifax
Halifax – Calgary
Sydney – Toronto
Sydney – Montreal
Charlottetown – Toronto
Saint John – Montreal
Saint John – Toronto
Fredericton – Montreal
Fredericton – Toronto
Bathurst – Montreal
Quebec City – Toronto
Ottawa – Calgary
Ottawa – Edmonton
North Bay – Toronto
Fort McMurray – Toronto
Winnipeg – Calgary
Winnipeg – Montreal
Regina – Calgary
Saskatoon – Calgary
Kamloops – Vancouver
Kamloops – Calgary
Comox – Vancouver
Nanaimo – Toronto
Nanaimo – Calgary
Prince Rupert – Vancouver
Penticton – Vancouver
Sandspit – Vancouver
Montreal – Victoria
Toronto – Victoria
Calgary – Victoria
Castlegar – Vancouver
Yellowknife – Calgary
Air Canada is also providing connectivity to five additional regional communities through interline agreements with third party regional carriers: Wabush, Baie Comeau, Gaspe, Mont Joli, and Val d’Or.
Air Canada’s commercial schedule may be adjusted as required based on the COVID-19 trajectory and government restrictions.
About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2020 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.
Air Canada and WestJet are both set to make a return to the Fredericton International Airport by late June
Aidan Cox · CBC News · Jun 09, 2021
As higher vaccination rates are expected to bring loosened COVID-19 restrictions, the Fredericton International Airport is preparing to welcome the return of flights to cities like Toronto and Montreal by the end of June.
Johanne Gallant, the airport’s president and CEO, said WestJet is set to bring back Toronto flights on June 26, while Air Canada is expected to bring back Montreal flights on June 28 and Toronto flights on July 1.
PAL Airlines will also start offering flights from Fredericton to Deer Lake, N.L., and St. John’s, as well as Halifax and Ottawa later this summer.
Speaking on CBC’s Information Morning Fredericton show, Gallant said the flights that are returning won’t bring the airport back to its normal capacity, but it’s a good start.
“So we had more frequency than that pre-pandemic, however, this is a really good start,” Gallant said.
“And they [the airlines] will measure the demand. This is all [supply] and demand, so as the flight fills up and the demands grow, we’ll see more and more flights.”
Gallant said it’s been a tough year for airlines, which have weathered a crash in demand due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
However, she said they’re gearing up for a return to normal and making sure things are safe for passengers when they start flying again.
“And at the airport also, we’re increasing, you know, the safety aspect — cleanliness and everything else. So we’re hoping with the vaccination rates going up that things will start to resume to some normalcy.”
Flights returning to capitalPlanes are expected to take flight this month at the Fredericton airport. We get details from Johanne Gallant, CEO of the Fredericton International Airport. 8:31
In an email, WestJet spokesperson Madison Kruger said the company is watching provincial reopening plans and vaccine rollout efforts.
“We are encouraged by the provincial reopening plans announced that promote the return of travel in Atlantic Canada, based on science, data and vaccination levels as early as July 1, 2021, in New Brunswick,” Kruger said.
“These plans provide a clear path and guidance towards allowing Canadians to safely travel to and from the province and will ensure WestJet can safely lead the restart of travel to this region.”
Kruger confirmed WestJet will begin offering daily flights between Toronto and Fredericton as of June 26, as well as between Toronto and Moncton as of June 30.
Air Canada and PAL Airlines did not respond to a request for comment.
Mike MacKinnon says new flights from PAL Airlines will add jobs, boost confidence among travellers
Tom Ayers · CBC News · May 26, 2021
The CEO of the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport is looking forward to the resumption of air travel in the Atlantic region, and he’s especially excited about the new arrival of an airline from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mike MacKinnon said having PAL Airlines come into the Maritimes will create jobs and add options for travellers.
“Pre-pandemic, the airport itself had about 140 direct jobs at the airport … with the different entities that work here and we’re below 30 now, so anything is going to be an improvement over where we’ve been for the last year to 14, 15 months,” he said.
Commercial flights have been shut down at Atlantic airports since January. They were set to restart at the end of May, but the pandemic’s third wave put that on hold.
PAL Airlines has announced it will be flying out of Halifax, Charlottetown and Fredericton starting at the end of June and its inaugural flight out of Sydney, N.S., is on June 28.
WestJet plans to restart Sydney-to-Halifax flights on June 28, while Air Canada has said it is resuming flights from Sydney to Toronto and Montreal on June 26 and from Sydney to Halifax on July 1.
MacKinnon said adding flight choices in Sydney will boost confidence among travellers.
“It’s the road to recovery,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see that we’ve got a new carrier who are going to be operating interregional routes around Atlantic Canada and that’s great for our airport.”
Janine Browne, director of business development and sales with PAL Airlines, said the company identified gaps in the regional marketplace and already has the equipment and staff to fill them.
“It’s a huge expansion,” she said.
“Our team is very excited that, during this challenging time, that we are able to do this.”
The airline is starting from Sydney with a 37-seat Dash 8 that can also carry cargo.
‘People are really, really eager to travel,’ says PAL spokesperson
Browne said the company is prepared to operate in a new environment, given differing health restrictions in each province.
“We’re obviously keeping a close eye on government restrictions and respecting that, but we think it’s going to be the right time and we think that people are really, really eager to travel,” she said.
“People are looking to get on that plane. People are looking to get in the air and fly.”
PAL announced its plans to fly out of Sydney on Tuesday morning and by midday, had already taken some bookings, Browne said.
Fredericton International Airport. Image: Facebook.
FREDERICTON —The Fredericton International Airport lost around $2.6 million last year, but its leadership is confident business will soon return to where it was pre-Covid-19.
Those were the key messages shared at the airport’s annual general meeting, held through Facebook Live on May 14.
Johanne Gallant, president and CEO of the airport, said the authority started its first quarter on a “very good note,” but that changed in March 2020 when Covid-19 forced companies like Porter Airlines and Air Canada to ground or drastically reduce flights.
Gallant said passenger traffic in Fredericton’s terminal dropped significantly, going from approximately 427,000 passengers in 2019 to around 103,000 passengers in 2020. She expects that number to be lower this year due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
“But we’re being very optimistic right now with the vaccination rollout that these flights will be back in no time, hopefully this summer,” said Gallant.
Kenny Kyle, chair of the audit committee and board of directors member, said the surplus of $2.6 million the airport saw in 2019 turned into a deficit last year. The change, which sits around $5.2 million, is a result of a $7.5 million drop in revenue, ranging from passenger terminal fees to concessions.
Despite receiving government subsidies, Kyle said it “fell well short” of what was needed to recover operational losses. As a result, the airport looked at ways to handle its budget, which involved restricting spending to essentials, using capital project funds and reducing its workforce.
But one of the silver linings of the pandemic, according to Gallant, was the recent expansion of the airport’s terminal, which finished ahead of time and under budget. Gallant said there were few delays in the project because the authority hired local companies that didn’t need to worry about health restrictions.
The airport also acquired new funding that will go towards two new fire trucks in addition to airfield electrical work. Part of that money, estimated to be around two to three million dollars, comes from Transport Canada’s Airport Relief Fund. The news comes as the Saint John Airport announced last week it’ll receive around $1 million.
While the airport had fewer passengers, public relations and marketing manager Kate O’Rourke said it has been busier than ever.
The airport was the first in New Brunswick to receive Airport Council International’s health accreditation after implementing Public Health measures. The honour means it follows the best practices “for the pandemic era.”
O’Rourke also announced the airport is pleased that Newfoundland and Labrador’s PAL Airlines will begin offering flights this summer. She said this is a service passengers have requested prior to the pandemic and is a great opportunity to explore the Atlantic bubble once it opens.
“We’re working hard to build this business back so that we welcome back our colleagues and our travellers when the time is right,” said O’Rourke.
“We know how to grow and we’re going to do that again once this pandemic is over.”
OTTAWA, ON, May 11, 2021 /CNW/ – The global COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the air sector in Canada. Airports have been significantly affected, experiencing major decreases in traffic over the past 15 months. Despite these consequences, airports have played a crucial role since the start of the pandemic by continuing to provide essential air services, including traveling to medical appointments, air ambulance services, community resupply, getting goods to market, search and rescue operations, and forest fire response.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, launched two new contribution funding programs to help Canada’s airports recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic:
The Airport Critical Infrastructure Program (ACIP) is a new program providing close to $490 million to financially assist Canada’s larger airports with investments in critical infrastructure-related to safety, security or connectivity;
The Airport Relief Fund (ARF) is a new program providing almost $65 million in financial relief to targeted Canadian airports to help maintain operations.
In addition to launching these two new funding programs, the Minister announced that Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) is receiving a funding top-up of $186 million over two years. The ACAP is an existing contribution funding program which provides financial assistance to Canada’s local and regional airports for safety-related infrastructure projects and equipment purchases.
“Canada’s airports are major contributors to our country’s economy, and play a key role in sustaining the social and economic well-being of our communities, and our local airport workers. These programs will help ensure that, as Canada works towards recovery and travel restart post pandemic, our airports remain viable and continue to provide Canadians with safe, reliable and efficient travel options, while creating and maintaining good paying jobs in the airport sector.”
The Honourable Omar Alghabra Minister of Transport
The Airport Critical Infrastructure Program (ACIP), the Airport Relief Fund (ARF), and the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) funding top-up and program expansion were originally announced in the Fall Economic Statement in November 2020.
The Airport Critical Infrastructure Program (ACIP) will distribute $489.6 million in funding over five years to airports for eligible projects such as runway repairs/rehabilitation, airfield lighting enhancements, investments in terminal buildings, and transit stations to ensure connectivity to mass transit systems.
On April 15, 2021, the Government of Canada announced a contribution of up to $100 million towards the $600-million project to construct a new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) light rail underground station at the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport. Federal funding for this project comes from the Airport Critical Infrastructure Program (ACIP).
The Airport Relief Fund will provide $64.8 million in funding to airports whose 2019 revenues were less than $250 million. The amount of funding to each targeted eligible recipient will be calculated using a tiered formula-based approach, based on 2019 revenues.
In addition to the one-time funding top-up of $186 million, eligibility for the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) has been temporarily expanded to allow National Airport System airports with less than one million annual passengers in 2019 (Gander, Charlottetown, Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Thunder Bay, London, and Prince George) to apply for funding under the Program in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.
For 2021-2022, funding has been awarded to 63 airports for 86 ACAP projects, including runway and taxiway repairs/rehabilitation, lighting enhancements, purchasing snow clearing equipment and firefighting vehicles and installing wildlife fencing.