Flair Airlines Extends Schedule Through Summer 2022

Canada’s favorite ULCC is confident in travel demand growth over the coming year and expands schedule in core Canadian and US markets

Edmonton, Alberta, September 9, 2021 – Flair Airlines, Canada’s only true ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC), continues its surge to bring low fares to Canadians and has extended its flight schedule through Summer 2022 in core Canadian and US markets.

“As we grow our fleet and expand our service, we see the demand for Flair’s low fare travel continuing to explode across Canada. We are absolutely focused on rescuing Canadians from the bloated prices they have long suffered in flying,” says Stephen Jones, President and CEO, Flair Airlines. “Flair is committed to helping reunite families and make travel accessible for everyone, and our schedule extension will help passengers prepare for 2022 by knowing they can explore and connect without breaking the bank.”

The schedule expansion extends the booking period into Summer 2022. Many year-round and seasonal routes will see an increase in service including flights departing from Edmonton (YEG), Kelowna (YLW), Halifax (YHZ), Kitchener (YKF), Abbotsford (YXX), Winnipeg (YWG), Toronto (YYZ), Saint John (YSJ), Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Victoria (YYJ), Charlottetown (YYG), Thunder Bay (YQT), and Montreal (YUL).

Flair’s confidence in Canadian travel continuing to grow in 2022 is reflected in the ultra-low fares where cost efficiency and demand allow for pricing to start at just $29 CAD one-way on some routes. All routes and schedule details can be viewed at https://www.flyflair.com. More low fares and exciting summer route announcements will be coming soon! Be among the first to know by signing up for Flair’s newsletter https://www.flyflair.com/newsletter.

Flair is rapidly growing to serve Canadians with low fare flights, the extended schedule allows for more efficient planning for customers and airline partners. Deliveries of new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft throughout 2021 and 2022 continue to grow the fleet as Flair achieves its goal of 50 aircraft in five years. Flair continues to bring more jobs to the market and is hiring more staff and flight crew as it meets the growth demands of the airline.

About Flair Airlines

Flair Airlines is Canada’s only independent Ultra Low-Cost Carrier (ULCC) and is on a mission to liberate the lives of Canadians by providing affordable air travel that connects them to the people and experiences they love. With an expanding fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, Flair is growing to serve 26 cities across Canada and North America. For more information, please visit http://www.flyflair.com

Charlottetown Airport activity rebounding amid ease of restrictions, new routes

From CBC News – link to source story

August revenue, however, still far from 2019 levels

Arturo Chang · CBC News · Posted: August 10, 2021

More than 253,000 visitors have come to the Island since travel restrictions were eased on June 27. (P.E.I. government)

The Charlottetown Airport is looking a bit livelier these days, with the easing of provincial travel restrictions coinciding with the launching of new flight routes to the city.

Charlottetown Airport Authority CEO Doug Newson said the airport is buzzing with activity once again after what’s been a tough year and a half for the travel industry due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“You come to the airport today and you see the parking lots of cars, lots of greeters, a lot of employees here back at the airport that we haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

“So it’s been very encouraging and it’s quite a change from what we’ve been experiencing.”

Airlines Flair and PAL have begun scheduled service to YYG in recent weeks, while WestJet launched a new non-stop route between the city and Calgary.

In addition to this, the federal government announced Tuesday the airport will receive $3.1 million in funding to help maintain current operations and to create or re-establish regional flight routes.

Tourism boom

Meanwhile, the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) says there’s been a big increase in bookings and inquiries from people looking to visit the province. And on Tuesday, P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said more than 253,000 visitors have come to the Island since restrictions were eased on June 27.

The government has received over 301,000 P.E.I. Pass applications during the same period.

TIAPEI chief executive officer Corryn Clemence said the uptick could catch many businesses in the tourism industry off-guard. The situation could be aggravated now that Americans are being allowed into the country for non-essential travel. 

“It really has been a challenge,” Clemence said. “We know some of our operators probably didn’t hire as many as early as they normally would because of the restrictions and border closures. So I think we’re seeing a bit of scrambling right now, trying to get staffing in place.”

Revenue at the airport isn’t at pre-COVID levels — Newson said income so far in the month of August has been 40 to 50 per cent what it was during the same period in 2019.

“It’s really the tip of the iceberg in terms of recovery,” he said. “But at least it’s going in the right direction.”

Flair Airlines touches down in Charlottetown, third new flight in a week

From CBC News – link to source story

‘We’re just happy to be talking about growth and recovery and people travelling for a change’

Wayne Thibodeau · CBC News · Posted: Aug 02, 2021

Flair Airlines touched down at the Charlottetown Airport for the first time Monday, with a new non-stop service to Toronto’s Pearson Airport. (Charlottetown Airport Authority)

Flair Airlines touched down at the Charlottetown Airport for the first time Monday, with a new non-stop service to Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

This is the third new flight, and the second new airline, for the Island’s airport in less than a week. 

WestJet, which has been operating in the capital city airport for 15 years, launched its first direct flight from Calgary to Charlottetown and Newfoundland-based PAL Airlines introduced a brand new service between Halifax and Charlottetown. 

Stephen Jones, president and CEO of Flair Airlines, was on the tarmac to welcome his airline’s first arrival on Prince Edward Island. 

Flair had hoped to launch its service to P.E.I. sooner but the pandemic put a hold on its expansion plans. 

“It’s been brutal for the whole industry and Flair is no exception, but we’re growing our way out of it,” said Jones.

“We’re really seeing a rebound in traffic at the moment.”

P.E.I. Tourism Minister Matthew Mackay, left, Charlottetown Airport CEO Doug Newson, and Stephen Jones, president and CEO of Flair Airlines, were on the tarmac to welcome Flair’s flight into Prince Edward Island on Monday. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Not only was it a new airline, but a brand new Boeing aircraft that landed on Monday. 

There were 174 passengers on the first flight into Charlottetown 

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport, said the addition of Flair is another sign of recovery for the airline industry and for the Island’s beleaguered tourism industry.

Newson said he’s not surprised by the speed of the airline industry’s rebound.  

“We always knew … that there’s a lot of pent-up demand, a lot of visitors here that are coming to see their family and friends that haven’t been home for a couple of years in a lot of cases,” said Newson. “So we knew as soon as P.E.I. opened up for visitors outside of Atlantic Canada the airlines would come back and the flights would be busy.”    

‘It’s nowhere close to what we’re used to’

Newson said he believes next year could be a banner year for the airport and tourism on the Island. 

The first passengers get off a Flair Airlines flight at Charlottetown Airport on Monday. Flair will fly Toronto to Charlottetown Mondays and Fridays and Charlottetown to Toronto Mondays and Fridays. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

“We’re just happy to be talking about growth and recovery and people travelling for a change,” said Newson.   

P.E.I. Tourism Minister Matthew Mackay, who was also on hand for the initial Flair Airlines flight, said the new flights are huge for the tourism industry, which was devastated by the pandemic. He said the industry is slowly starting to recover.  

“It’s nowhere close to what we’re used to,” said MacKay, noting the province usually sees 1.6 million visitors annually. 

“We’re not there, but we’re certainly in good position here, we’ve got a lot of traffic, a lot of visitors coming in, a lot of accommodations are full and we’re really hoping for a big fall season as well.”    

Flair will fly Toronto to Charlottetown Mondays and Fridays and Charlottetown to Toronto Mondays and Fridays. 

Even with the new airlines, airport officials say the airport is only operating at about half of its summer capacity.  

‘We will fly where the demand is’

Jones said he expects his airline, which bills itself as Canada’s only independent low-fare airline, will have a long history in P.E.I.

“I hope it’s going to be year-round,” said Jones. 

“I mean we will fly where the demand is so we will grow our network to where people want to fly.” 

Flair Airlines Begins New YYG Service

Charlottetown, PE – YYG Charlottetown Airport welcomed the first Flair Airlines flight to Prince Edward Island earlier this morning. The new non-stop service from Toronto Pearson Airport will operate every Monday and Friday morning.  

“We are pleased to see Flair Airlines add YYG Charlottetown Airport to their expanding network”, said Doug Newson, CEO of YYG Charlottetown Airport. “Flair provides another attractive option for those wanting to visit PEI and Islanders looking for a quick getaway to Toronto. New airlines bring new economic activity to our province and we look forward to working with Flair to grow their presence at YYG while they contribute to our economic recovery.”

“Flair Airlines is absolutely thrilled to be bringing service to Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island. We look forward to delivering low fares every day, making travel more affordable so that people can connect with friends and family, and people from other parts of Canada can come and visit this beautiful area,” says Stephen Jones, President and CEO, Flair Airlines.

Details of Flair Airlines service between Charlottetown and Toronto:

RouteFrequencyFlight #DepartingArriving
Toronto-CharlottetownMonday & Friday3096:309:35
Charlottetown-TorontoMonday, Wednesday, Friday31010:2011:45

For further details and to book flights, please visit flyflair.com or contact your travel agent.

About the Airport Authority

Charlottetown Airport Authority Inc. assumed operational and financial responsibility for the Charlottetown Airport on March 1, 1999. The Board of Directors now oversee the affairs of the airport with a mission to provide a safe, secure, and fiscally responsible airport that connects PEI to the world and drives economic growth. Prior to the pandemic, more than 383,000 passengers travelled through the airport on an annual basis, generating more than $103-million in total economic activity in Prince Edward Island.

WestJet’s first non-stop flight from Calgary to Charlottetown takes off

YYC-YYG inaugural event ribbon cutting (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
YYC-YYG inaugural event ribbon cutting (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

CALGARY, AB, July 29, 2021 /CNW/ – Today, WestJet celebrated the launch of its new route between Calgary and Charlottetown with the departure and arrival of flight 630 and flight 631 between the communities. The new non-stop flights directly link Western Canada to Prince Edward Island for the first time and marks a positive sign for both region’s travel and tourism markets.

“The introduction of new service between Prince Edward Island and Calgary is an important milestone for WestJet, our guests and these communities,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “As vaccination rates across Canada continue to rise and restrictions ease, there’s no better way to demonstrate our commitment to Canada’s economic recovery than by seeing our investments take off as we continue to restore our network and reconnect Canadians from coast-to-coast.”

Upon flight 630’s arrival in Charlottetown, guests visiting from Calgary were greeted by Charlottetown Mayor Phillip Brown.

WestJet’s first non-stop flight from YYC to YYG is greeted with inaugural event upon landing in Charlottetown (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet’s first non-stop flight from YYC to YYG is greeted with inaugural event upon landing in Charlottetown (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“The City of Charlottetown is thrilled about the announcement of the new direct flight from Calgary,” said Mayor Brown. “We are truly excited for this opportunity for more Canadians to experience everything our beautiful city has to offer. Thank you, WestJet, for your continued efforts to connect Canadians from coast to coast.”

“We are delighted to welcome WestJet’s new non-stop service from Calgary, connecting Western Canada with Prince Edward Island for the first time,” said Doug Newson, CEO, YYG Charlottetown Airport. “As Canadians start exploring our country once again, this service will provide a convenient option for Islanders now calling Alberta home and for new tourists wanting to explore our beautiful Island.”

WestJet’s new twice-weekly, non-stop service between Charlottetown and Calgary operates on Thursdays and Sunday. The service was previously set to begin in June 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Since 2005, WestJet has been a key part of the fabric of Prince Edward Island’s visitor economy and remains committed to investing in the recovery of Atlantic Canada from the COVID-19 crisis. 

WestJet’s Charlottetown to Calgary service details

Route Peak FrequencyDepartureArrival
Calgary – Charlottetown2x weekly (Thursday/Saturday)9:30 a.m.5:05 p.m.
Charlottetown – Calgary2x weekly (Thursday/Saturday)5:50 p.m.8:08 p.m.
*All times are local

Additional quotes

“We thank our guests, the YYG Charlottetown Airport and other partners who stuck with WestJet throughout the pandemic,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President, External Affairs and Chief Legal Officer. “We are glad to be flying twice-weekly and look forward to bringing tourists, business and products to and from Charlottetown to help drive economic recovery for the Island.”

First non-stop flight from Calgary to Charlottetown greeted by WestJetters at YYG (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
First non-stop flight from Calgary to Charlottetown greeted by WestJetters at YYG (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“With this non-stop flight connecting Calgary and Prince Edward Island, WestJet continues to help showcase Calgary and all its experiences to Canadians,” says Cindy Ady, Tourism Calgary CEO. “The return of direct routes post-pandemic will help to support the recovery of the tourism industry and bolster the economic impact of tourism, which directly contributes over $2.5 billion to Calgary’s economy each year. We are very eager to once again welcome guests from P.E.I. to Calgary”

“Congratulations to WestJet on their restored route from Calgary to Charlottetown. This direct route will connect Canadians from both regions and offer more domestic destination options as many look forward to travelling again,” The Calgary Airport Authority.

About WestJet 

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.

Charlottetown Airport sees airlines adding extra flights, extra seats

From CBC News – link to source story

Airlines optimistic about travel to P.E.I., says airport CEO

Kevin Yarr · CBC News · Jul 15, 2021

Passengers disembarking, July 14, 2021 (Tony Davis/CBC)

Charlottetown Airport will have four airlines bringing in planes by early August, and CEO Doug Newson is excited to see the recovery starting after a long pandemic slump.

“We can see already this coming weekend, on Sunday and Monday, we’ve got passenger loads that are over 100 people on certain flights. So that’s encouraging. You know, we haven’t seen that here in a long time,” said Newson.

“Even if we don’t see 2021 as busy as 2019, it’ll certainly be better than 2020.”

Pandemic travel restrictions for people coming into P.E.I. put a virtual halt to traffic at Charlottetown Airport. At one point it was down to two flights a day, arriving from and departing to Montreal.

P.E.I. reopening

On Sunday P.E.I. will open to all fully-vaccinated Canadians without the need for self-isolation, and airlines are responding to the expected demand for travel. WestJet has flights several days a week to Toronto and is adding a non-stop Calgary flight. PAL will soon be flying direct to Halifax and Flair to Toronto.

Charlottetown Airport CEO Doug Newson is looking forward to further rebuilding in 2022. (Laura Meader/CBC)

“We’re not sure exactly what August or September will hold, but we know that all the airlines are adding extra flights and extra seats,” said Newson.

“They’re obviously optimistic that travel will start to recover.”

It’s been a quiet 16 months at the airport, he said, but activity is beginning to pick up, with airline staff, cleaners and commissionaires returning to work.

Newson does not expect any further announcements of flights this summer, but he is looking forward to starting to rebuild on the record years for traffic that preceded 2020 next spring.

With files from Laura Meader

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

WestJet reconnecting Alberta routes

Airline to restart 10 routes across province and inaugurate new service from Edmonton to Penticton, Kamloops and Nanaimo

Non-stop service between Calgary-Charlottetown to launch on July 29

CALGARY, AB, June 25, 2021 /CNW/ -WestJet is further restoring Alberta’s domestic and interprovincial connectivity with the restart of 10 routes to and from destinations across British Columbia, the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia from Calgary, Edmonton and Medicine Hat. The airline will also start operation of three new routes to and from Edmonton and begin non-stop service between Calgary and Charlottetown. 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 Alberta to Prince Edward Island 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 Alberta’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and this July, WestJet will offer non-stop service from Calgary to 42 cities and from Edmonton to 16 cities. 

“This week’s meeting with more than 70 Northern Alberta industry partners demonstrates the value of listening to our partners as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic. We thank Premier Kenney and his government for leading the safe restart of travel for Albertans. While progress has been made in Alberta, we continue to advocate for a safe travel framework from the Government of Canada,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President.

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.

Alberta route restarts between now and July 6, 2021

RoutePeak FrequencyRoute restart date
Edmonton – Nanaimo*2x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Edmonton – Regina 6x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Edmonton – Comox 5x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Calgary – Prince George4x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Calgary – London, Ont.4x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Edmonton – Winnipeg 6x weeklyJune 30, 2021
Calgary – Windsor2x weeklyJune 26, 2021
Calgary – Whitehorse2x weeklyJune 27, 2021
Calgary – Medicine Hat5x weeklyJune 27, 2021
Edmonton – Halifax 2x weeklyJuly 1, 2021
Edmonton – Penticton*2x weeklyJuly 3, 2021
Edmonton – Kamloops*2x weeklyJuly 4, 2021
Edmonton – Saskatoon 6x weeklyJuly 6, 2021
Calgary – Charlottetown *2x weeklyJuly 29, 2021
*New route

About WestJet 

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.

WestJet reconnecting Atlantic Canada routes

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 Peak FrequencyRoute restart date
Charlottetown – Toronto  4x weeklyJune 25, 2021 
Fredericton – Toronto 1x dailyJune 26, 2021 
Deer Lake – Toronto 4x weeklyJune 27, 2021 
Halifax – Sydney 1x dailyJune 28, 2021 
Gander – Halifax 3x weeklyJune 30, 2021 
Moncton – Toronto 1x dailyJuly 1, 2021 
Halifax – Edmonton2x weeklyJuly 2, 2021
Charlottetown – Calgary *2x weeklyJuly 29, 2021
*New Route

About WestJet 

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.

PAL Airlines steps in to fill flight gap in N.L. after Air Canada’s departure

From CBC News – link to source story

Carrier adding 12 new routes, promising fares as low as $69

CBC News ·  Jun 17, 2021

Newfoundland and Labrador carrier PAL Airlines will fly as far as Ottawa starting this summer. (Submitted by PAL Airlines)

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.

“We’re watching all these different factors to make sure that if there are gaps or challenges that are going to slow our recovery that we address them.”

Browne said she expects passengers to see significantly lower fares as the new routes launch, with some tickets setting passengers back as little as $69.

There’s a catch, though. Despite the partnership with Air Canada, anyone booking a PAL flight can’t avail of Aeroplan points.

That may change in the coming months, however.

“Who knows what the future holds,” Browne said.