Porter Airlines returns to the air

TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2021 /CNW/ – Porter Airlines officially returns to the skies today, almost 18 months after suspending flights due to COVID-19 public health and travel restrictions.

Porter Airlines officially returns to the skies today, almost 18 months after suspending flights due to COVID-19 public health and travel restrictions. (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)
Porter Airlines officially returns to the skies today, almost 18 months after suspending flights due to COVID-19 public health and travel restrictions. (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)

Flights to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Thunder Bay are the first to restart. Other Canadian destinations starting within the next 10 days are Halifax, Quebec City, St. John’s, NL, and Moncton. U.S. destinations in Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington return on Sept. 17. Flights to other year-round destinations are set to resume as of Oct. 6, with all routes currently available for booking. The initial flight schedule can be found at www.flyporter.com.

“Our passengers and team members have been waiting for this day to arrive,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO, Porter Airlines. “We currently have over 900 team members who have put in countless hours to get everything ready for our return to service, with more being recalled or hired every week. Everyone at Porter is looking forward to welcoming passengers back and delivering our distinct style of service again.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory joins the celebrations at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Porter has strengthened its existing standards with a focus on high levels of sanitization in order to protect the health of its passengers and team members. More information about the Healthy Flights program can be found on Porter’s website.

In addition to Healthy Flights, Porter has also introduced a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for its team members. To support a safe and healthy workplace and travel experience, team members must present a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of the start of their shift or be fully vaccinated. The Canadian federal government announced in August its intention to mandate vaccination for federally-regulated workers; once specific details are known, Porter’s policy may evolve.

Bookings made before Sept. 30, will be eligible to change or cancel with no fees. Passengers also have the option to book a flight with the Full Refund Option for $40 plus taxes. The Refund Option entitles customers to receive a refund, including base fare, taxes and fees, for their booking upon advance cancellation of their flight for any reason.

About Porter Airlines

Porter Airlines provides a warm and effortless approach to hospitality, restoring glamour and refinement to air travel. Porter is an Official 4 Star Airline® in the World Airline Star Rating®.

The airline currently offers flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, New York (Newark), Chicago (Midway), Boston and Washington (Dulles), and has seasonal flights to Mt. Tremblant, Que., Muskoka, Ont., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Stephenville, N.L.

Visit www.flyporter.com or follow @porterairlines on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Details of growth plans to provide North America-wide service are available at flyporter.com. 

PAL Airlines launches service from Ottawa Airport to Canada’s east coast

From CTV News – link to source story

Josh Pringle, Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist | Saturday, July 31, 2021

Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport

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.

Welcome to #YOW, PAL!

We sent @PALairlines’ inaugural departure off with a water salute!

We’re happy to have them on board, offering flights to @stjohnsairport @yfcairport @MonctonYQM, as we work towards the recovery of Canada’s aviation industry #FasterTogether.

Originally tweeted by flyyow (@FlyYOW) on 30 July 2021.

The Ottawa International Airport continues to ramp up service as the COVID-19 restrictions ease.

In August, Air Canada will offer 20 departures per day from the Ottawa Airport.

Porter Airlines confirms restart of service to select Canadian destinations beginning Sept. 8

U.S. flights start on Sept. 17

TORONTO, July 5, 2021 /CNW/ – Porter Airlines is officially returning to the skies on Sept. 8, nearly 18 months after suspending flights due to COVID-19 public health and travel restrictions.

The flight schedule is returning in phases, with the initial group of Canadian destinations being Halifax, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, St. John’s, NL, Thunder Bay and Toronto. U.S. destinations in Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington follow on Sept. 17.

U.S. flights start on September 17 (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)
U.S. flights start on September 17 (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)
Porter Airlines confirms restart of service to select Canadian destinations beginning Sept. 8 (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)
Porter Airlines confirms restart of service to select Canadian destinations beginning Sept. 8 (CNW Group/Porter Airlines)

“This is the moment our team members, passengers and the communities we serve have been waiting for,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO, Porter Airlines. “The pandemic has progressed to the point that we can now begin restoring service across our network, focused around our main base at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Being grounded for more than a year has been incredibly difficult for everyone involved. In true Porter fashion, our team members have displayed remarkable levels of commitment, engagement and optimism over this uncertain period of time, despite the vast majority being unable to work. While deciding to suspend our service was the most difficult business decision we’ve made, announcing a restart of flights is the first step in a recovery process that includes recalling hundreds of team members and welcoming back passengers. We are looking forward to once again delivering Porter’s unique style of service.”

Approximately 500 team members will be recalled to active status as the first phase of flights are introduced. More staff will be added in subsequent months as flights and destinations return to the schedule.

The initial flight schedule is as follows:

Canadian Routes*Peak daily roundtripsService start date
Ottawa – Toronto6 flightsSept. 8
Montreal – Toronto6 flightsSept. 8
Thunder Bay – Toronto3 flightsSept. 8
Ottawa – Halifax2 flightsSept. 13
Montreal – Halifax1 flightSept. 13
Quebec City – Toronto1 flightSept. 13
Halifax – St. John’s1 flightSept. 17
Moncton – Ottawa1 flightSept. 17
U.S. Routes*
New York (Newark) – Toronto6 fightsSept. 17
Boston – Toronto3 flightsSept. 17
Chicago (Midway) – Toronto2 flightsSept. 17
Washington (Dulles) – Toronto1 flightSept. 17
* All Toronto routes operate at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Schedules vary by day of week.

Flights to other year-round destinations normally operated by Porter are currently available for booking and set to resume as of Oct. 6. Service is returning based on anticipated passenger demand, with frequency and markets increasing over time.

To provide flexibility and give travellers peace of mind when purchasing for future travel, Porter is making all fares purchased by July 20, for travel through December 15, 2021, fully refundable, with no fees. This also applies to Porter Escapes vacation packages.

In preparation for its resumption of service, Porter is introducing a comprehensive program to protect the health of its passengers and team members. Healthy Flights strengthens existing standards focusing on high levels of sanitization.

“Our safety team developed Healthy Flights as more than a checklist of rules and procedures,” said Deluce. “They carefully considered how to provide a safe experience for our passengers and team members, while being true to our distinct brand and approach to service.”

Detailed information about Healthy Flights is available online.

About Porter Airlines
Porter Airlines has revolutionized short-haul flying with a warm and effortless approach to hospitality, restoring glamour and refinement to air travel. Porter is an Official 4 Star Airline®in the World Airline Star Rating®.

The airline currently offers flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, New York (Newark), Chicago (Midway), Boston and Washington (Dulles), and has seasonal flights to Mt. Tremblant, Que., Muskoka, Ont., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Stephenville, N.L. Visit www.flyporter.com or follow @porterairlines on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Travellers on the move as N.L. reopens border to the rest of Canada

From CBC News – link to source story

Signs of hope and normalcy return to the St. John’s International Airport

Alex Kennedy · CBC News · Jul 02, 2021

Lisa Bragg is director of business development and marketing for the St. John’s International Airport Authority. A measure of success for airlines these days, she says, is fewer cancellations by passengers. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

The runways at St. John’s International Airport were drenched in fog Thursday morning, but a sunny warmth filled the airport as travel restrictions eased and families and friends were reunited outside, with many meeting for the first time in more than a year.

Travel ground to a halt in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the province closed its borders that May. The province reopened to non-essential travel Thursday, meaning it was the first time people from outside the Atlantic region could enter without an exemption and 14-day isolation.

Public health measures are still in effect, as partially vaccinated travellers must test negative for COVID-19 or isolate until they do, while fully vaccinated travellers don’t have testing or isolation requirements.

The first flight of the day taxied into St. John’s from Toronto just before 1:30 a.m. NT Thursday, and served as a welcome next step toward normalcy for Lisa Bragg.

“There’s no magic button that makes things go to pre-pandemic levels, but everything is a sign of hope and a sign of reopening and moving back toward normal,” Bragg, who is the director of business development and marketing for the St. John’s International Airport Authority, told The St. John’s Morning Show.

“[Airlines] are seeing an uptick in passengers on the flights. But they’re starting to measure by fewer cancellations. Nobody ever thought that would be a measure of a flight’s success, but that’s where we are.”

‘It’s so much better’

Bragg isn’t the only one excited to see planes leaving the runway.

Allison Sharpe is travelling to Ontario for a month to visit her sister, and will end up coming back with a new puppy.

“It’s so much better,” Sharpe said when asked about the relaxed quarantine measures for incoming travellers.

“I’ll be able to get my groceries, I’ll be able to go for walks. Oh my God, I’ll be able to see my friends. I’m probably going to be a little bit safe and take extra precautions, but just knowing that I don’t have to come home and stay home in my house for two weeks will be amazing.”

Newfoundland and Labrador’s border officially opened to Canadians for non-essential travel on Thursday. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Stephen Janes was off to Prince Edward Island to visit family, and it was his first time flying since 2019. He wanted to wait for vaccination rates in the country to increase before travelling anywhere.

“So we’re both fully vaccinated, so we’re OK with the change. But we’re just going to see some family after a long, almost two years now,” Janes said.

His taxi driver, Gary Campbell, also hopes to be on the move as more travellers come and go from the province, and thinks it will be a welcome boost for business.

“We had a lot of drivers that once COVID came out, they stopped driving. So we don’t have as many drivers as we used to,” he said. 

“You used to get 15, 20, 25 cars here at times when different flights come in from Toronto and Montreal. That’s been reduced greatly.”

Travellers coming into St. John’s International Airport can book a COVID-19 test prior to arrival if they require it. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

Bragg said travellers both in and out of the airport will have a different experience, like the terminal being closed to those looking to welcome travellers.

A drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic has also been set up at the airport for travellers who require a COVID-19 test upon arrival.

“It’s really important to check the public health guidelines for that COVID test…. Everybody recognizes it’s a little different.”

COVID-19: PAL Airlines lands for 1st time in Fredericton Monday as flights resume

From Global News – link to video and source story

By Nathalie Sturgeon  Global News

Posted June 28, 2021

Click to play video: 'New airline service out of Fredericton airport signals beginning of COVID-19 recovery'
WATCH: There was a sign of New Brunswick’s continued recovery from the pandemic at Fredericton International Airport on Monday morning. The first flight to Fredericton by Pal Airlines arrived to kick off its new service. Nathalie Sturgeon reports.

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.

Passenger traffic taking off at Atlantic Canada’s airports after COVID-19 slump

From City News 1130 – link to source story

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS | Jun 28, 2021

An Air Canada Airbus A220-300 airliner from Toronto arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, N.S. on Monday, June 28, 2021. Airports in Atlantic Canada are gearing up after the pandemic grounded many flights to the region. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

FREDERICTON — Airlines are resuming flights across Atlantic Canada to meet pent-up demand as COVID-19 infections drop and travel restrictions ease.

The Halifax Stanfield International Airport had hosted 17 airlines serving 46 destinations prior to the pandemic, but that fell to two airlines serving four destinations because of COVID-19.

Marie Manning, the airport’s vice-president of business development, says the number of domestic flights is starting to increase, and she’s anxious to get some direction from the federal government on international routes.

The Charlottetown Airport was down to just one flight per day for the past year, but officials say they expect that will be up to six or seven flights daily by early August.

Peter Avery, CEO of the airport in St. John’s, N.L., says passenger levels were down 75 per cent in 2020 over 2019, but they have begun to rebound.

Avery, however, says he doesn’t expect a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels until 2024 or 2025.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Air Canada Supports Economic Recovery as the Country’s Leading Carrier, Serving 50 Cities Across Canada to Enable Canadians to Conveniently Connect

  • 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:

RouteFrequencyAircraftEffective
Montreal-Deer LakeDailyCRJ900Jul 1, 2021
Montreal-Kelowna3x Weekly July4x Weekly AugAirbus A220June 26, 2021
Montreal-Saskatoon-ReginaDailyCRJ900Aug 1, 2021

Resumption of services:

Airport StationRouteEffectiveFrequency
Gander Gander – HalifaxJun 293x Weekly
 Gander – TorontoJul 25x Weekly
St. John’s St. John’s – TorontoJun 19Daily
Goose Bay Goose Bay – St. John’sJun 293x Weekly
Deer Lake Deer Lake – HalifaxAug 15x Weekly
Halifax Halifax – CalgaryAug 15x Weekly
Sydney Sydney – TorontoJun 263x Weekly
 Sydney – MontrealAug 1Daily
Charlottetown Charlottetown – TorontoJun 184x Weekly
Saint John Saint John – MontrealJun 303x Weekly
 Saint John – TorontoJul 24x Weekly
Fredericton Fredericton – MontrealJun 29Daily
 Fredericton – TorontoJul 15x Weekly
Bathurst Bathurst – MontrealJun 273x Weekly
Quebec City Quebec City – TorontoJun 191x Daily
Ottawa Ottawa – CalgaryJul 2Daily
 Ottawa – EdmontonAug 12x Weekly
North Bay North Bay – TorontoJun 283x Weekly
Fort McMurray Fort McMurray – TorontoJuly 12x Weekly
Winnipeg Winnipeg – CalgaryJun 206x weekly
 Winnipeg – MontrealAug 1Daily
Regina Regina – CalgaryJul 15x Weekly
Saskatoon Saskatoon – CalgaryJul 25x Weekly
Kamloops Kamloops – VancouverJun 294x Weekly
 Kamloops – CalgaryJun 284x Weekly
Comox Comox – VancouverJun 303x Weekly
Nanaimo Nanaimo – TorontoJul 41x Weekly
 Nanaimo – CalgaryJul 25x weekly
Prince Rupert Prince Rupert – VancouverJun 253x Weekly
Penticton Penticton – VancouverJun 294x Weekly
Sandspit Sandspit – VancouverJun 233x Weekly
Victoria Montreal – VictoriaJun 193x Weekly
 Toronto – VictoriaJun 194x Weekly
 Calgary – VictoriaJun 214x Weekly
Castlegar Castlegar – VancouverJun 283x Weekly
Kelowna Kelowna TorontoJun 184x Weekly
Yellowknife Yellowknife – CalgaryJun 303x Weekly

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 Cargo Announces Launch Routes For its Newly Converted Freighter Aircraft Arriving This Fall

MONTREAL, June 14, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo today announced the initial list of planned routes for the Boeing 767-300ER freighters scheduled to enter service this fall. Air Canada is in the process of fully converting several of its Boeing 767 aircraft into dedicated freighters in order to fully participate in global cargo commercial opportunities.

When the first converted 767 freighters enters service in October, they will fly primarily out of Toronto Pearson International Airport, and will operate on routes linking Toronto to Miami, Quito, Lima, Mexico City and Guadalajara, the first time Air Canada Cargo will serve this destination. Additional destinations to be served in early 2022, include Halifax, St. John’s, Madrid and Frankfurt as more freighters enter service.

“These freighters will provide long-term stability and growth for our cargo customers, in particular the freight forwarding community who require reliable air freight capacity year-round. They will allow us to continue building on the success of our cargo-only flights and are an important part of our future growth. I am excited to have these aircraft enter service, a milestone for Air Canada Cargo that also opens up a world of opportunities for us and our customers,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo at Air Canada.

Air Canada has begun the process of converting certain of its Boeing 767s that have been retired from its passenger fleet into fully dedicated freighters. As part of that process, all seats are removed from the aircraft, a large door is cut into the fuselage to allow for loading of palletized cargo, and the floor is reinforced to carry additional weight. Air Canada Cargo plans to have two freighters in service by the end of 2021, with more to join the fleet in 2022.

The addition of dedicated freighter aircraft to Air Canada’s fleet will allow Air Canada Cargo to provide consistent capacity on key air cargo routes, which will facilitate the movement of goods globally. With these freighters, Air Canada Cargo will enhance its capabilities to transport goods such as automotive and aerospace parts, oil and gas equipment, pharmaceuticals, perishables, as well as handling the growing demand for fast, reliable shipment of e-commerce goods.

In the fall of 2020, Air Canada successfully concluded a collective agreement amendment with its pilots represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association for contractual changes to enable Air Canada to competitively operate dedicated cargo aircraft in the cargo marketplace.

Since March 2020, Air Canada has operated more than 9,000 all-cargo flights using its wide-body passenger aircraft as well as certain temporarily modified Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft, which have additional available cargo space due to the removal of seats from the passenger cabin.

Toronto flights returning to Fredericton as early as June 26

From CBC News – link to source story

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

The Fredericton International Airport is expecting WestJet to offer daily flights to Toronto from its airport starting on June 26. (Submitted by Fredericton International Airport)

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.”

Johanne Gallant, president and CEO of the Fredericton International Airport, said while flights won’t be going back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of June, it will be ‘a good start.’ (Submitted by Fredericton International Airport)

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.

The pandemic has been brutal. But airport authorities are bracing for even tougher times ahead

From CBC News – link to source story

5-year timeline for recovery at Gander and St. John’s airports

Garrett Barry · CBC News · May 12, 2021

Gander’s airport is a ghost town these days. Passenger traffic plummeted in 2020 to just 51,000 passengers. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

A pair of reports issued by airports in Newfoundland and Labrador suggest the toughest years are still to come for the industry.

Both the Gander and the St. John’s airports released their annual reports this month, and both suggest revenues won’t fully rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic until at least 2025.

In fact, both airports expect to have larger operating losses in 2021 then they did in 2020, according to projections included in their reports.

“The issue the airport has is not what’s happened in 2020; it’s what’s going to happen between 2021 and 2025, which is when we project … passenger traffic to recover to 2019 levels,” said Reg Wright, CEO of the Gander International Airport Authority.

Even then, the Gander airport is projecting revenue to reach only $6.5 million — significantly less than the $10 million once anticipated for 2020.

The revenue losses mean the suspension of some construction projects and layoffs to some full-time and seasonal workers. The St. John’s Airport Authority reported it laid off 17 per cent of its staff to save $4 million.

Reg Wright, CEO of the Gander Airport Authority, says he doesn’t expect passenger traffic to recover until 2025. (CBC)

Wright said recovery will be slow due to the potential emergence of new coronavirus variants and outbreaks, and the uneven vaccination pace around the world.

But he fears the traffic recovery will take longer in Gander, which may be a victim of a “geographically uneven recovery.” He said airlines, which are also hurting, will refocus their operations in bigger and more profitable centres.

“When they talk about small markets and getting back to them, they’re talking about places like Winnipeg and Halifax. So you can imagine where Gander sits in terms of recovery,” he said. 

Feeling the pain

Wright said the withdrawal of several air routes from his airport, including the only routes leaving the province, has led to pain in the surrounding region — and not just for leisure travellers.

He compared it to losing high-speed internet access.

“All these problems suddenly arose; couldn’t get locums in from Halifax, so it affected the delivery of health care,” he said. “Essential workers were adding 7½- to eight-hour return journeys onto their trip west. Core samples — mining sector in central [Newfoundland] is on bust — couldn’t get those out.”

That’s partly why he says the provincial government will need to help prop up the air travel sector.

“My suggestion to them is they are going to have to take an active role in restoring air linkages. And in some cases, they might have to match airport subsidies or incentives for service that is critical to the economic well-being of the province.”

Plummeting pace

The Gander airport saw about 51,000 passengers through their doors this year, the lowest number on record.

In St. John’s, passenger traffic fell by 75 per cent in 2020, and airport CEO Peter Avery wrote in his report that it remains at a 50-year low. 

“This is a devastating reality for an island reliant on air travel,” he wrote. 

Both airports have made significant spending cuts a a result of the losses.

In St. John’s, airport management decided to indefinitely suspend the west terminal expansion project, which was set to add gates and baggage carousels.

The Gander Airport, for the first time in its history, shut down one of its two runways over the winter, to save money on maintenance.

The National Trust of Canada once called Gander Airport’s international departures lounge the most important modernist room in Canada. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

However, the airport authority has decided to continue with their international lounge renovations. Wright said it’s being in done in the hope that the airport will be “in a position of growth at some point.”