Airports feeling wind under their wings after announcement PAL Airlines will expand flights

From CTV News – link to source story & link to video

Kyle Moore, CTV News Atlantic Reporter | Monday, April 12, 2021

A group is looking for solutions to help make air travel a more pleasant experience.

SYDNEY, N.S. — Airports around here are hoping the addition of flights by PAL Airlines is a sign of recovery for the aviation industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

More than 50 percent of the workforce has lost their jobs, but employment opportunities are returning as flights take to the air in the coming weeks.

Sydney’s airport will soon see traffic both on the tarmac and at the ticket counter.

PAL Airlines will lift off May 31, offering commercial service to and from the island for the first time in more than three months.

“It’s certainly the news that we have been hoping for and advocating for since the end of 2020 when we found out all commercial service was being suspended from our local airport,” said Kathleen Yurchesyn of the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

With the loss of daily flights from Air Canada and WestJet across the Maritimes, people who work in the aviation industry in the region have been left without work.

“Over 50 per cent of our sector is out of work,” said Monette Pasher, the executive director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association.”I think as we take steps towards recovery and see some of our air services come back, hopefully more people will be re-employed in our industry.”

Fredericton International Airport will also benefit from the Newfoundland-based airline with PAL’s direct flights to Deer Lake and St. John’s, starting next month.

With three weekly direct flights to Ottawa and Halifax beginning in August, it all translates into much-needed employment.

“PAL Airlines will bring in someone and then it creates jobs because you have a ground handler that handles the air service,” said Johanne Gallant, the CEO of Fredericton International Airport.

Gallant says PAL Airlines has provided cautious optimism for an industry paralyzed by the pandemic.

“The Halifax service and the Ottawa service, these are two routes that were served by Air Canada and they said they wouldn’t be renewing that service short-term, so this will definitely fill a need for the region,” Gallant said.

Back in Sydney, the airport will now be home to three commercial carriers when Air Canada and WestJet return in June.

Details of Financial Support to Air Canada

From: Department of Finance Canada | 12 April 2021

Backgrounder

The government’s financial support to Air Canada is being provided under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF). The Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation (CEEFC) has committed to provide $4 billion in repayable loans and an equity investment in Air Canada of $500 million in newly-issued Class B Voting Shares at a 15 per cent discount to their recent trading price. CEEFC will also receive warrants on Air Canada stock in an amount equal to 10 per cent of the loan commitments (CEEFC’s news release contains detailed information regarding the warrants).

As a condition of its agreement with CEEFC, Air Canada has made a number of commitments as outlined below.

Refunds for Canadians

The agreement with Air Canada ensures that customers who had their flights cancelled, or took action to cancel a flight because of the pandemic, are not financially disadvantaged. Under the terms of the financing agreement, Air Canada has committed to offer refunds to any passenger who wants a refund for certain pandemic-related cancelations by the carrier that CEEFC will finance. Air Canada has committed to providing customers with their refunds as soon as possible – beginning April 30, 2021 at the latest. CEEFC will provide additional loan financing of up to $1.4 billion for Air Canada to provide these refunds. Travel agents may assist in the processing of refunds for tickets the travel agents sold but will not be required to refund their commission to Air Canada.

Protecting Jobs

As a condition of the agreement with CEEFC, Air Canada has committed to maintain jobs at current levels, to respect collective bargaining agreements, and protect workers’ pensions. Air Canada currently has 14,859 active Canadian employees.

As required more generally under LEEFF, Air Canada has also agreed to restrictions on dividends, buying back shares, and executive compensation. The company will also provide climate-related financial disclosures, including how its future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.

Restarting Vital Domestic Air Services

The terms of the financial support will ensure that Canadians and communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada, through the restart of service at airports temporarily suspended by Air Canada. For seven airports where Air Canada had permanently canceled service, the airline will seek interline agreements with other carriers with a view to ensure those Canadians continue to have convenient access to their preferred airports and the flights they need.

Service will resume by no later than June 1, 2021, at the following suspended airports based on public health advice:

  • Bathurst
  • Comox
  • Fredericton
  • Gander
  • Goose Bay
  • Kamloops
  • North Bay
  • Penticton
  • Prince Rupert
  • Saint John
  • Sandspit
  • Sydney
  • Yellowknife

Supporting Jobs in Canada’s Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry supported 235,000 Canadian jobs and contributed over $28 billion in gross domestic product to the Canadian economy in 2019.

This financing agreement will allow Air Canada to continue to be a vital customer of the Canadian aerospace industry by completing its planned purchase of aircraft as set out in its business plan, which includes aircraft built in Canada, such as the Airbus A220. Aerospace is one of the most innovative and export-driven industries in Canada. The negative impact of the pandemic on the bottom line of airlines has put the relationship between airlines and the aerospace industry at risk, threatening job security in the sector. Ensuring that Air Canada maintains its status as a key customer of Canada’s aerospace industry is important to ensuring the long term success of the sector and the thousands of jobs it supports.

PAL Airlines to service Fredericton with direct flights to Newfoundland, Ottawa, Halifax

From CBC News – link to source story

The announcement marks the first-ever offering of direct flights from Fredericton to Newfoundland

Isabelle Leger · CBC News · Apr 07, 2021

PAL Airlines will offer flights from Fredericton to Deer Lake and St. John’s Newfoundland, starting May 31. (PAL Airlines)

A Newfoundland-based airline will service the Fredericton International Airport with direct flights to Deer Lake and St. John’s, starting May 31.

PAL Airlines announced Wednesday it would offer three weekly flights to both cities, marking the first time Fredericton has ever had direct flights to Newfoundland.  

“This is a long time coming… we’re confident there’s a demand for this,” said Fredericton Airport CEO Johanne Gallant. 

“We’re really pleased to see that PAL Airlines is willing to take this on.”

Johanne Gallant is the CEO of the Fredericton International Airport. (Submitted by Fredericton International Airport)

The airline will also offer three weekly direct flights from Fredericton to Ottawa and Halifax, beginning Aug. 2. 

Gallant said the addition of services is a sign of recovery for the aviation industry, which was paralyzed by pandemic restrictions. 

With plans for the Atlantic Bubble to open on April 19, she said the flights to Newfoundland and Halifax will provide New Brunswickers access to some prime tourist destinations. 

“We really see, for the summer, great leisure opportunities… people from here wanting to do something different and Newfoundland has such a great tourism product,” said Gallant.  

The Fredericton airport just underwent a major renovation. (JAMES WEST PHOTOGRAPHY)

She said the flights to Halifax will fill the demand for corporate flyers and students, which was left unserviced when Air Canada halted all flights from the airport in January.

  • Air Canada to suspend operations in Fredericton
  • Air Canada, Flair planning June 1 restart in Saint John, airport says
  • WestJet expects ‘very high demand’ for flights coming back in June, may add more

No one from PAL Airlines was available for an interview with CBC News on Wednesday, but the company provided an emailed statement. 

“We understand giving people the ability to get into and out of the region reliably and efficiently is going to be essential to the post-pandemic recovery,” said the statement.

‘We’re ready for these new airlines’

The Fredericton airport completed a large terminal expansion this month, which Gallant says made room for more carriers. 

Fredericton International Airport completed the renovations in early 2021. (Submitted by Fredericton International Airport)

“Definitely having a brand-new terminal with lots of space for social distancing, that helps,” she said.   

“With the terminal expansion project, we’re ready for these new airlines.”

Air Canada and WestJet have announced their flights will resume at the airport this summer. 

Gallant said the airport is still waiting for an official response from Porter Airlines on whether it will restore its services from pre-pandemic.

She said it’s also hopeful that Sunwing will be able to offer vacation getaway packages from Fredericton by next winter. 

Ready for takeoff: YFC terminal expansion completed

Departures Lounge at the Fredericton International Airport

Ready for takeoff: YFC terminal expansion completed

March 29, 2021

Ahead of schedule and under budget, the Fredericton International Airport is now modernized, expanded, and ready for service to resume

The Fredericton International Airport (YFC) has completed construction on its much-anticipated terminal expansion project. The new YFC will be a cornerstone of economic recovery, creating a strong impression on first-time visitors to our region while offering locals a comfortable, convenient gateway for business and leisure travel. With improved amenities and security as well as additional space for public health precautions such as physical distancing, this modernized terminal building is ready for the future.

A record 427,085 travellers used the airport in 2019, and YFC’s consistent year-over-year traffic growth made it the fastest-growing airport in the Maritimes between 2010 and 2019. That growth, combined with evolving security requirements, had stretched the existing terminal building well beyond its intended capacity of 200,000 passengers per year.

Passengers at the Fredericton International Airport

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be more important than ever for our province to showcase what a tremendous place New Brunswick is to live, work, and play. This bright, modern airport will play a key role in our economic recovery,” says Fredericton International Airport Authority (FIAA) President and CEO Johanne Gallant.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic emerged at the mid-point of the project, the terminal expansion was completed under budget and four months ahead of schedule. Under the leadership of Mathers Project Management Consulting and BIRD Construction the project was able to continue smoothly. Enhanced health protocols were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic. Employing primarily New Brunswick firms and workers, the project was able to continue construction with minimal disruptions to its labour force.

Mathers Project Management Consulting and BIRD Construction have done a tremendous job here at YFC, and we are grateful for their dedication and expertise,” says Mary Goggin, Chair of the FIAA Board of Directors. “Their leadership enabled us to keep this project moving throughout the pandemic, employing hundreds of New Brunswickers and preparing our region for the upcoming economic recovery.”

The YFC expansion project was a partnership between the Fredericton International Airport Authority, the Province of New Brunswick, and the Government of Canada.

“Our government understands the vital role the Fredericton International Airport plays in the province’s economic development. This is why we have invested to expand and improve the terminal. I am pleased to see the project completed at this vital time which will support New Brunswick’s post-COVID economic recovery,” said the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

“The expansion of the terminal at the Fredericton International Airport (YFC) has been a multi-phased project involving a great deal of commitment and cooperation to get it over the finish line,” said Gary Crossman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation. “Congratulations to everyone involved on completing this significant project.”

Chess Piece Cafe in the Fredericton International Airport

Travellers will be pleased to discover that the new terminal offers enhanced food service options. Local business Chess Piece Patisserie and Café was selected as the food service provider, and will serve its signature coffee, desserts, and meals along with local craft brewery products. The new terminal features a café inside the departures lounge, which will open once air service resumes.  When pandemic restrictions are eased, an additional café will be open in the Arrivals area serving both travellers and the community.

Due to the travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, scheduled air service has been temporarily suspended at YFC. The airport authority continues to work with airlines and provincial and federal governments to ensure that air service is restored when the time is right.

  • New café location in the departures lounge and upgraded café in the arrivals area, featuring local craft beer, espresso beverages, and food prepared by Chess Piece Patisserie and Café.
  • Ample plugs and USB ports throughout the terminal to allow travellers to charge their devices and stay connected.
  • Upgraded male and female washrooms, private washrooms for families or individuals of any gender, and nursing rooms.
  • Children’s play area located next to the café in the departures lounge.
  • Natural light throughout the terminal.
  • Additional space for air carriers, and flexibility to move designated check-in counters as needed.
  • Improved security, including appropriate space for security screening lines and additional cameras throughout the building.
  • Airside corridor allowing passengers to exit and enter the building closer to their aircraft.
  • Additional space in all areas for passengers, allowing for physical distancing.
  • Upgraded baggage handling facilities.

WestJet to restore regional routes suspended due to COVID-19

Flights set to resume to airports across Atlantic Canada and Quebec City as part of the airline’s commitment to a safe restart  

CALGARY, AB, March 24, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced it will restore flights to the communities of Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney and Quebec City after service was suspended as a result of COVID-19. The reinstatement of service will restore WestJet’s complete network of pre-COVID-19 domestic airports.

“We committed to return to the communities we left, as a result of the pandemic, and we will be restoring flights to these regions in the coming months, of our own volition,” said Ed Sims, WestJet, President and CEO. “These communities have been a crucial factor in our success over our 25 years and it is critical for us to ensure they have access to affordable air service and domestic connectivity to drive their economic recovery.” 

Service is set to resume to the five airports WestJet suspended service from in November, beginning June 24, 2021 through to June 30, 2021. In addition, service between St. John’s and Toronto, which was indefinitely suspended in October, will resume effective June 24, 2021. Following a temporary suspension, the restart of service between St. John’s and Halifax will be advanced from June 24, 2021 to May 6, 2021. Full schedule details and restart dates are outlined below. 

“Our focus remains on the safe restart of air travel. We ask that federal and provincial governments work with us to provide clarity and certainty to Canadians, including travel policies that support economic recovery and restore jobs,” continued Sims.  

Recognizing the investments that WestJet’s travel and tourism partners in the regions need to make to begin to recover from the pandemic, the airline will continue to encourage the Atlantic premiers to advance their efforts to ensure the region is open to Canadians this summer. 

“Alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, we are hopeful that there will be an easing of onerous travel restrictions currently in place,” said Sims. “We look forward to working together to safely reconnect Canadians to the region in the coming months.”  

Planned Network Service Resumptions: 

Route Frequency Planned restart date 
St. John’s-Halifax 6x weekly May 6, 2021 
Charlottetown-Toronto 11x weekly June 24, 2021 
St. John’s-Toronto 1x daily June 24, 2021 
Fredericton-Toronto 1x daily June 26, 2021 
Quebec City-Toronto 1x dailyJune 28, 2021 
Sydney-Halifax 1x daily June 28, 2021 
Moncton-Toronto 1x daily June 30, 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. 

Fredericton International Airport – Larry’s Story

From YFC – Fredericton International Airport Social Media | 26 February 2021 & 10 March 2021

Brown’s Insulation Ltd is one of dozens of local companies that worked with us on the terminal expansion, but we’ve got to say – Larry’s story is unique! Check out the video for more on this local connection, and what it means to his family.

Air Canada Outlines Route Cuts: Many Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe Flights Suspended

From TravelPulse Canada – link to source story

JIM BYERS  JANUARY 14, 2021

Spotlight on Paris
Paris

The pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions are forcing Air Canada to suspend some of their most popular flights, at least temporarily.

In a memo sent to TravelPulse Canada, Canada’s largest airline outlined the details of the 25% capacity reduction they mentioned in a Wednesday statement. The list contains 44 temporarily suspended flights, including 12 domestic, 10 trans-border (USA) and a full 22 international routes.

Popular flights that are being temporarily discontinued include Toronto-Quebec City, Montreal-Orlando, Toronto-Tampa, Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta, Montreal-Barbados, Calgary-Maui, Toronto-Paris and Toronto-Saint Lucia.

It’s a blow to Air Canada workers and to Canadians, as well as tourism workers in the Caribbean and around the world. It’s also a difficult pill to swallow for beleaguered travel agents, who now have a lot fewer destinations they can sell. But airline officials say they’ve been left with no choice.

Effective Jan 23, this is a list of the stations closed and routes suspended until further notice:

Additional airport stations closed in Canada:

  • Fredericton NB
  • Gander NL
  • Goose Bay NL
  • Yellowknife NWT
  • Kamloops BC
  • Prince Rupert BC

Additional domestic routes suspended

  • Fredericton–Montreal
  • Gander–Halifax
  • Goose Bay–Halifax
  • Kamloops-Vancouver
  • Ottawa-Calgary
  • Ottawa-Vancouver
  • Prince Rupert-Vancouver
  • Quebec City-Toronto
  • St. John’s-Toronto
  • Victoria-Calgary
  • Winnipeg-Calgary
  • Yellowknife-Edmonton

Transborder routes suspended

  • Calgary to: Maui
  • Montreal to: Denver, Houston, Orlando
  • Toronto to: Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Washington (Dulles)
  • Vancouver to: Honolulu (until April), Maui (until mid-February)

International flights suspended

  • Montreal to: Barbados, Casablanca, Cozumel, Samana, San Jose (Costa Rica), Santa Clara, Turks & Caicos, Nassau, Sao Paulo, Puerto Vallarta
  • Toronto to: Cozumel, Curacao, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Paris, Saint Lucia, Santa Clara, St. Vincent, Zurich
  • Vancouver to: Los Cabos, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta

Air Canada on Wednesday said it will have to reduce capacity by 25% and lay off 1,700 workers due to a lack of demand.

Since the implementation by the Federal and Provincial Governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn. We regret the impact these difficult decisions will have on our employees who have worked very hard during the pandemic looking after our customers, as well as on the affected communities,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

WestJet last week reduced capacity by 30% per cent and announced layoffs and furloughs for 1,000 workers.

Smaller cities suffer the economic brunt of Air Canada’s pandemic exit

From CBC News – link to source story

Loss of air transport links could further devastate Canada’s small regional economies

Don Pittis · CBC News · Posted: Jan 14, 2021

As of this week, there were no more flights from Canada’s major carriers out of the airport that serves Cape Breton, a blow to local businesses and other essential travellers. Some fear smaller centres are being held ransom as airlines and governments negotiate pandemic bailouts. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

As the airlines and the federal government battle it out over an industry bailout, a new round of service cuts this week has left many in Canada’s smaller centres feeling like they are being held for ransom.

There is no question that the finances of Air Canada and WestJet have been severely hurt by the collapse of domestic and international travel during the pandemic, which has only been made worse by a new and more severe wave of COVID-19 spread.

The airlines say they are closing the routes because that is where they are losing money.

But as Fredericton, Yellowknife, Prince Rupert and Kamloops were added to a longer list of small communities to where Air Canada will no longer fly, questions are being raised over whether vulnerable regional economies are being used as a bargaining chip to force the government’s hand.

Monica LaBarge, who teaches at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said that while airlines around the world have lost money during the pandemic and are looking for savings, it is hard to ignore the political implications of cutting services to smaller business centres that have few transportation alternatives.

“It’s not a hard stretch for them to say we just can’t afford to do it right now,” said LaBarge, “But there may be a strategic aspect to it as well.”

Playing a strategic game

In Europe, governments have already offered airlines tens of billions of dollars in bailout money to help them survive the financial impact of travel bans and lockdowns.

And while Canadian airlines have been able to take advantage of the same subsidies available to other struggling businesses, LaBarge said a bigger bailout package specifically for airlines has been held up by a dispute over where the money will go.

“The airlines and governments and consumer groups to some extent have been in a bit of a standoff as consumers are waiting for refunds for flights they were not able to take,” said LaBarge. 

The lineup at Yellowknife airport security check on Dec. 29, 2017. Unlike some regional airports the NWT capital will still have service for essential travel, but not from Air Canada. (Priscilla Hwang/CBC)

By not refunding ticket prices paid in good faith by passengers, she said that Air Canada may have created its own difficulty when it then went to the government looking for bailout cash.

“The government’s in this untenable position that they can’t really afford to do that from an optics perspective and from a fairness perspective too,” said LaBarge. “It’s not fair for individual consumers to subsidize Air Canada’s losses.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Canada’s new Transport Minister Omar Alghabra called regional service cuts disappointing, saying future support for the airlines will be on the condition that regional airports continue to be served.

But Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called the latest Air Canada cuts “deeply troubling.”

“With cuts to regional air service in Atlantic Canada and across the country, the situation is much more than just an air industry issue — pockets of our country risk being disconnected from others,” said Beatty on Wednesday, calling on the government to offer additional support.

Company blames government

In an announcement Wednesday of new service and staffing cuts, the airline put the blame for its latest 25 per cent cut, including 1,700 additional layoffs, squarely on government regulations.

“Since the implementation by the federal and provincial governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn,” said Lucie Guillemette, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Air Canada in a release.

The loss of more jobs will get the government’s attention, but perhaps not as much as the outcry over the loss of service to small urban centres across the country.

Ken Christian, mayor of Kamloops, B.C., said he was “beyond disappointed” to see the cancellation of the city’s only direct flights to Vancouver, about 250 kilometres away. 

Deneen Everett, executive director of Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, said that while surprised by this week’s announcement that the airline was cutting service to the capital of the Northwest Territories, her members had a lot of sympathy for Air Canada as a struggling business.

Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce was disappointed Air Canada was pulling out but members believed the airline had to make the right decision for their business. (Jennifer Geens/CBC)

“We certainly respect that Air Canada has to make the right decision for their business,” said Everett. “But obviously it is disappointing news for our community.”

Airlines have suggested that air travel is not a major cause of COVID-19 spread, but Everett said that the tight travel restrictions that led to the major carrier’s decision have helped to keep the NWT almost COVID-free. Currently there are no cases being reported in the territory.

“We’re one of the safest places in the world right now and one of the best business environments for retail,” she said. Nonetheless, the Chamber remains worried that without government support, the near complete loss of tourist traffic will lead to the permanent loss of many businesses.

One concern for LaBarge is how long it will take for the struggling airline business to get its books in good enough shape to return to the communities it is now abandoning. Yellowknife still has scheduled passenger service from other airlines, but according to Ted Bartlett, president of Transport Action Atlantic, other communities losing service are not so lucky.

The Kamloops, B.C., airport pictured in June 2019. Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said he was ‘beyond disappointed’ that the city is losing its only direct flight to Vancouver. (Courtney Dickson/CBC)

Bartlett, who volunteers in his role at the transportation advocacy group, said he was surprised that as New Brunswick’s provincial capital, Fredericton will have no service at all.

“It seems to me a city is not a city unless it has good transportation links to the rest of the country and the world,” he said.

Modern businesses, including in smaller cities, depend on moving goods and people quickly from around the world and Bartlett says many fear regional airports may not survive, compounding the pandemic’s impact on local firms.

“The airlines of course answer to their shareholders and it’s all about shareholder value,” said Bartlett. He said that was different 40 years ago when as a Crown corporation, part of Air Canada’s task was to provide service to all parts of the country.

But according to an email this week from Alghabra’s press secretary Allison St-Jean, the government remains committed to regional air service, but the means of obtaining it is now different.

“Before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure that Canadians get their refunds, regional communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada and Canadian air carriers maintain their status as key customers of Canada’s aerospace industry,” she wrote.

Air Canada Implements Additional Capacity and Workforce Reductions

  • First quarter planned system capacity further reduced by 25 per cent due to new pre-departure testing requirements, provincial lockdowns and travel restrictions
  • 1700 employees affected

MONTREAL, Jan. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Air Canada announced today it is adjusting its network under its COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan by further reducing first quarter system capacity by an additional 25 per cent. As a result of these system-wide changes, there will be a workforce reduction of approximately 1700 employees, in addition to the over 200 impacted employees at our Express carriers. The airline is working with its unions on mitigation programs.

“Since the implementation by the Federal and Provincial Governments of these increased travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the existing quarantine requirements, we have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn. We regret the impact these difficult decisions will have on our employees who have worked very hard during the pandemic looking after our customers, as well as on the affected communities,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

“While this is not the news we were hoping to announce this early into the year, we are nonetheless encouraged that Health Canada has already approved two vaccines and that the Government of Canada expects the vast majority of eligible Canadians to be vaccinated by September. We look forward to seeing our business start to return to normal and to bringing back some of our more than 20,000 employees currently on furlough and layoff,” concluded Ms. Guillemette.

Air Canada will be reducing approximately 25 per cent of its planned capacity for the balance of the first quarter of 2021. With this reduction, capacity in the first quarter of 2021 will be about 20 per cent of what Air Canada operated in the first quarter of 2019.

Air Canada will continue to evaluate and adjust its route network as required in response to the trajectory of the pandemic, government-imposed travel restrictions and quarantines, and to market and regulatory conditions.

Affected customers on all routes will be contacted by Air Canada and offered options, including refunds for eligible customers and alternative routings where available.

Air Canada to suspend operations in Fredericton

From CBC News – link to source story

All passenger flights will be suspended because of ‘stifled demand,’ travel restrictions, airline says

Marie Sutherland · CBC News · Posted: Jan 12, 2021

Air Canada announced Tuesday that it will cancel all passenger flights to Fredericton International Airport indefinitely, beginning Jan. 23. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The province’s airports have been dealt another blow with the announcement that Air Canada will suspend all flights to Fredericton International Airport as of Saturday, Jan. 23.

Air Canada confirmed the news in a statement Tuesday.

“We continue to experience stifled demand due to COVID-19 and ongoing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements,” Pascale Déry, Air Canada’s director of communications for Quebec, Eastern Canada and Europe, said in an email.

“As a result, we are suspending until further notice all passenger flights to Fredericton, beginning Jan. 23.”

Déry said the decision was not taken lightly.

“We regret the impact on our customers and communities, but it is increasingly difficult to continue to operate in this challenging environment,” she said, noting Air Canada’s overall network capacity is currently down about 80 per cent from  2019.

“We are still operating Montreal-Moncton and Toronto-Moncton.” 

Air Canada also announced the following Atlantic Canada flight suspensions Tuesday, effective Jan. 23, including Gander-Halifax, Goose Bay-Halifax and St. John’s-Toronto

Air Canada will continue to evaluate and adjust its route network as required in response to the effects of the pandemic and travel restrictions, she said.

The Fredericton flight suspension is just the latest blow to New Brunswick’s airports.

On Dec. 8, the airline announced it was suspending all flights out of the Saint John Airport and all Toronto flights out of the Fredericton airport indefinitely, starting Jan. 11, because of the second wave of the pandemic.

The last flight out of the Saint John Airport departed on Monday.

Fredericton International Airport CEO Johanne Gallant said the federal and provincial government travel restrictions during the pandemic have had a significant impact on the air travel sector and ‘support is needed’ to help airlines get through it. (Shane Fowler/CBC News file photo)

Airlines need support, airport CEO says

Fredericton International Airport CEO Johanne Gallant said Air Canada’s decision is not surprising, given how deeply the air travel sector has been affected by pandemic restrictions.

“These are extremely difficult times for airlines, and we know that this was not an easy decision for Air Canada to make,” Gallant told CBC News in an email Tuesday.

“Federal and provincial government-imposed travel restrictions are significantly impacting the air sector and support is needed for airlines to get through the pandemic.”

Gallant said the airport remains operational and will continue to serve the region for “non-passenger-related activity.”

“We look forward to a resumption in passenger service as soon as possible and remain focused on our region’s economic recovery.”

Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO Krista Ross said Air Canada’s suspension of flights to Fredericton will be difficult for the business community, ‘but we’re very hopeful that this is temporary.’ (CBC News file photo)

Businesses ‘hopeful this is temporary’

News of Air Canada’s decision to suspend operations in Fredericton was “discouraging” but not entirely unexpected, the CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce said.

Krista Ross said Air Canada informed her of their decision on Tuesday, and she also received a phone call from an Air Canada senior executive thanking the chamber for its continuing support.

“It’s been a difficult year for business since everything got started with the pandemic, and this is just another challenge they will be facing,” Ross said in an interview Tuesday.

“They definitely understand that businesses need to make difficult decisions, but unfortunately, this one has a broad impact on our community.”

Ross said it will take some time to assess the full impact of the decision on the city’s business community and the chamber’s 1,017 business members.

“We’ll have a better handle on that in the coming days, but it definitely will affect some of the businesses that operate out of the airport. And it will impact any businesses that still have a need to travel in and out of our communities.”

In the meantime, Ross said, she is “very hopeful” the suspension is temporary.

“We’ve been told they are leaving the flights in the system until April 12, so that tells us …. they’ll be monitoring the situation, and it will depend on what happens between now and then” in terms of health outcomes and travel restrictions, she said.

“So to me, that’s a positive go-forward plan,” Ross said. “We’re anticipating that with the rollout of the vaccine and as things calm down, hopefully we’ll be able to welcome Air Canada back to our airport and reinstate those flights.”