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.
NAV CANADA has been closely monitoring air traffic forecasts and is taking the necessary steps to ensure it has appropriate staffing to support the aviation industry recovery. Today, NAV CANADA has cancelled surplus notices to 41 air traffic controllers in area control centres in Gander, Moncton, Montreal and Edmonton. These air traffic controllers will remain on the job to provide vital air navigation services as the aviation industry begins its recovery.
“We are proactively taking this action to support our customers as they shift their focus to recovery. NAV CANADA remains ready and able to ensure the continued safety of Canada’s airspace as demand for air navigation services grows,” said Ray Bohn, President and CEO.
From the onset of the pandemic, NAV CANADA has been working to support safe operations and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Company. NAV CANADA’s workforce planning processes include multiple sources of information, including air traffic forecasts, which are designed to ensure that operations have the required resources to safely manage traffic throughout the pandemic, industry recovery and beyond.
“NAV CANADA will play a pivotal role in the sector’s recovery and remains committed to protecting the safety of the travelling public now and in the future,” added Bohn.
About NAV CANADA
NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company, established in 1996, providing air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million square kilometres of Canadian domestic and international airspace. The Company is internationally recognized for its safety record, and technology innovation. Air traffic management systems developed by NAV CANADA are used by air navigation service providers in countries worldwide.
Starting July 2, 2021, Air Canada will begin operating government-approved, COVID-tested flights to Rome, Italy from Toronto and Montréal.
We are the only Canadian carrier participating in the program, offering Canadians the ability to travel to Italy without the need to quarantine. Passengers will only be required to provide a negative COVID-19 antigenic or molecular (RT PCR) test taken within 48 hours of departure and take another one on arrival.
U.S. customers transiting through Canada to Italy on one of our direct flights to Rome can also benefit from this program.
Charlottetown airport expects ‘significant reduction in capacity’ compared to previous plans
CBC News · Jun 01, 2021
The chief executive officer of the Charlottetown Airport Authority says Prince Edward Island’s reopening plans are having a negative impact on the number of flights being scheduled for at least the early part of the summer.
Doug Newson told CBC News that talks have been taking place with Canada’s two major carriers, Air Canada and West Jet.
Newson said uncertainty around when the Island will actually welcome visitors without them having to isolate and monitor for signs of COVID-19 for two weeks have led to a scaling-back in some tentative plans for the 2021 summer schedule.
“It is a significant reduction in capacity,” he said.
Only a single Air Canada flight — to and from Montreal — has been scheduled at P.E.I.’s main airport for several months as the pandemic brought air travel to a near-halt.
“Air Canada is still planning to add a flight to Toronto later in June, so as of June 17 we will have two flights: one Toronto, one Montreal,” Newson said.
“WestJet is still planning to return on June 25, but they had originally planned to do 11 flights a week … that will be reduced down to four flights per week.
“Air Canada had originally planned to double their flight numbers in July, so two Montreal flights as well as two Toronto flights, and that’s been cut in half.”
Newson said August schedules for the airlines are not finalized.
The Charlottetown airport CEO said some of the other provinces are opening up to the rest of Canada earlier than P.E.I. plans to, and that will likely impact summer vacation booking plans.
Newson agrees that safety is the top priority, but as COVID-19 vaccination rates go up he’s hoping P.E.I. officials will decide to move up the reopening schedule as well.
The growing ULCC has released its Winter 2021/22 schedule for sale with fares starting from as low as $19
Edmonton, Alberta, May 27, 2021 – Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), has expanded its schedule with flights to domestic destinations now on sale until March 2022. With 24 routes and over 650,000 seats on sale, Winter 2021/22 will be Flair’s biggest ever winter schedule.
The winter schedule is part of Flair’s expansion of service to bring low fare air travel to more Canadians. The airline has 13 new aircraft on order joining the fleet in 2021 and 2022.
“We understand how keen Canadians are to travel again and our winter schedule will provide affordable air travel options to help connect the many families and friends who have been apart for the past year,” says Garth Lund, Chief Commercial Officer. “With fares available from as low as $19 and new aircraft joining the fleet, Flair will continue its expansion into the winter season.”
Bookings are now available for travel through March 26, 2022.
“We’re a business based on runways”: Air Canada, WestJet join other industry players calling for a roadmap for recovery
TORONTO — The urgent need for a clear roadmap for Canada’s recovery coming out of the pandemic, especially where travel is concerned, was underlined by a panel of travel industry executives including Air Canada’s President and CEO Michael Rousseau and WestJet’s VP Government Relations & Regulatory Affairs Andy Gibbons at a webinar yesterday presented by the Canadian Airports Council (CAC).
Rousseau and Gibbons were joined on the panel by airport executives Tamara Vrooman (YVR) and Philippe Rainville (YUL), plus David Goldstein (Travel Alberta) and Patrick Doyle (American Express GTB). The panel was hosted by Perrin Beatty with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and was part of the CAC’s 90-minute webinar on Air Travel Recovery in Canada.
While several provincial governments including Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta have come out with with step-by-step reopening plans, the federal government has not, said Beatty. “The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been urging the government for a clear path for reopening,” he said. “But we’re still lacking a clear and predictable plan for the country.”
And as YVR’s Vrooman pointed out, a plan for reopening Canada’s borders isn’t just about the travel industry, it’s about Canada’s economic recovery overall. “I can’t speak strongly enough that this isn’t just related to our industry,” said Vrooman.
As the travel industry well knows, other countries and regions, including the U.S. and the EU, are reopening and, in the case of the EU and other countries, readying digital systems to confirm proof of vaccination, immunity through previous transmission of COVID-19, or negative tests.
Canada is working with its G7 counterparts to align Canada’s documentation with whatever systems are in place, as confirmed in recent months by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
Air Canada’s Rousseau stressed how important that alignment is for Canada’s recovery. “We have to get a solution on vaccine passports that’s coordinated with the G7 countries,” he said.
WestJet’s Gibbons summed it up: “All we really want is travel guidance based on the latest science. That’s what we want and that’s what we need.” Other countries have done that as a matter of course, said Gibbons, but “Canada has not.”
And as YVR’s Vrooman puts it, “We’re a business based on runways. What we need is a runway and a clear line of sight.”
After close to 15 months of an almost complete travel shutdown, it’s not just the airlines and airports calling for a reopening plan. “For the thousandth millionth time, give us a plan,” said Brett Walker, GM, Collette (Canada) earlier this month, echoing the frustrations of many retail travel agents, tour operators and other suppliers.
Yesterday’s webinar coincided with the CAC’s release of a whitepaper on aviation recovery, ‘Holding Pattern: Canada needs a Swift Recovery and Competitive Air Sector.’
Here are some of the points from the CAC-commission whitepaper, presented during the webinar by Solomon Wong, CEO, InterVistas:
The number of passengers that moved through Canada’s airports in April 2021 was 9% of 2019’s levels.
Direct connectivity fell more than 90% across all Canadian regions in April 2020 versus April 2019. The picture for 2021 is just as dire, says the CAC, with direct connectivity falling even further compared to 2019.
According to the CAC’s analysis, if increased costs for the aviation supply were to lead to a 25% increase in airfares, that would suppress 20% of passenger traffic (demand). Based on passenger traffic at Canadian airports in 2019, the expected loss in passenger demand would equate to roughly 16 million passengers – roughly three airports the size of Ottawa.
In 2019, the average airfare paid by passengers in Canada was approximately $470, and there were approximately 162 million passengers at Canada’s airports. In the case of a hypothetical 25% and 50% increase in the price of air travel in Canada, the resulting average airfare would be approximately $590 and $705.
The longer the recovery, the more difficult it will be for Canada’s airlines to compete in the same international aviation markets also served by foreign carriers, who may have a financial advantage over Canadian airlines due to government support these airlines may have received throughout the pandemic.
The loss in passenger traffic has resulted in sharp reductions in overall airline capacity – measured by the number of seats available – at Canadian airports, some of which have lost all commercial air services during the pandemic (e.g., Toronto Billy Bishop Airport, Saint John Airport, Sydney Airport (Nova Scotia), and Prince Rupert Airport, among others). Medium-size airports such as Winnipeg and Regina have also been impacted, losing almost 80% of airline capacity and all direct international services.
In terms of airline seat capacity, Canada has fallen from 16th to 23rd in the world, with capacity down roughly 80%.
Direct connectivity fell more than 90% across all Canadian regions in April 2020 versus April 2019.
The whitepaper also suggests that Canada’s aviation sector would benefit from deploying a recovery agenda that is at least in part compatible with that already initiated by the U.S., Canada’s largest trading partner.
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.
Feds ‘very confident’ Air Canada deal will lead to a jump in employment numbers: Alghabra
In February, Air Canada’s outgoing president and CEO Calin Rovinescu called 2020 the “bleakest year in the history of commercial aviation.” The airline lost $1.16 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020.
But as restrictions begin to lift and the prospect of more normal times beckons, the airline industry stands to gain. For more than a year now, people have been cooped up inside.
Millions lost their jobs when the pandemic hit. But millions more simply shifted to working from home. They saved money by not travelling, not eating out and not commuting. CIBC says households have saved a staggering $100 billion.
Now Canadians are starting to plan for life on the other side of the crisis.
Economist Amit Damadoran, who works with the online travel site Hopper, says U.S. travel agents are already seeing a major uptick in bookings.
“With the vaccine rollout, we’ve seen a lot of that pent-up demand start to translate into more bookings, both for late spring and summer,” he said.
That’s why entrepreneurs see an opportunity.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an aircraft leasing company called Avalon Holdings, says more than 90 airlines are launching this year.
‘It’s now or never’
There’s Wizz Air in Abu Dhabi, Flyr in Norway, Flypop in the U.K and Ego airlines in Italy. They’re all trying to nudge in on competitors and take advantage of the low cost of entry to the industry right now.
“It’s now or never,” said Ian Lee, an associate professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.
He says new airlines have none of the baggage the legacy carriers have had to shoulder over the past year. None of the sunk costs, none of the lost billions. New carriers have been able to negotiate lucrative deals amid the crisis, he said.
“The slots are cheaper,” he says referring to fees airports charge airlines to take off and land. “The planes are cheaper. The labour is cheaper.”
Minhas says newer airlines are poised to take advantage. He also says travellers are ready to flock back onto planes. Canada Jetlines will soon offer flights to sun destinations with cheaper fares than legacy carriers, in part because they were able to strike those good deals.
“We were able to get airplanes at one heck of a price,” he said.
Consumers pining for experiences
Minhas says plane manufacturers found it harder to sell aircraft this past year simply because most airlines had too many planes and not enough spots to park them.
But getting the equipment and the permits right is only part of the picture. The real question revolves around demand. Just how quickly are consumers going to flock back onto crowded airplanes?
The past year has been incredibly cautious. How long will it take for that caution to recede?
Lee says he kept reading experts claiming everything was going to change.
“I have rejected that theory from the beginning,” he said.
Lee says there’s always been a stark divide between the stuff we buy and the things we do. This past year has made that divide even more clear. Sure, consumers could buy endless amounts of things online. But what they’ve missed more than anything are experiences.
No one knows when travel will boom again
So, as the pandemic restrictions pull back, consumers Lee predicts consumer will flood back to services that provide experiences. And he says tourism will be one of the biggest beneficiaries
“There’s going to be an explosion in air travel,” says Lee.
But like everything else in the economy right now, there are more questions than answers. It seems all the crystal balls broke during the last crisis. The fact is, no one knows how and when travel will start booming again. The International Air Transport Association doesn’t expect things to fully normalize until 2024.
The airline industry is one of the most intensely competitive in the world. New entrants have an incredibly low success rate in Canada, as giants like Air Canada have devoured competitors one by one.
But each of these upstarts believe this time will be different. And that starts with COVID cases coming under control.
“We’re starting to see that recovery,” says Minhas. “It’s going to happen. We just need to hold on and have a little bit more patience to get there.”
Ottawa, May 19 (Prensa Latina) Air Canada Airline confirmed that it will resume flights to Cuba and other Caribbean destinations that were called off at the beginning of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On its official website, the Canadian company posted its future trips scheduled for June and July. These flights will depart from Toronto and Montreal.
Unless last-minute health situation indicates otherwise, Air Canada will include Varadero and Cayo Coco in its itinerary, providing a weekly flight, starting July 3.
From the end of June, the airline will make flights to Cancun, Mexico (four a week) and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (four a week); Montego Bay, Jamaica (five flights a week) and Bermuda (one flight a week).
Air Canada´s brand-new schedule is based on a prediction that travel restrictions will be eased up by then, Company spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told PAX News.
Global airlines really need too much time to market and sell tickets in advance; but as it was seen in April, pandemic-related suspensions can be extended at any time, depending on travel restrictions and public health situation, Fitzpatrick added.