Many Canadian airline customers still awaiting refunds for flights cancelled amid pandemic

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story


Canada’s airlines gave credits – rather than cash back – to customers whose uninsured tickets were cancelled in the pandemic. FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

More than a year into the pandemic, some Canadian airline customers are still awaiting refunds on cancelled flights.

Unlike their global rivals, Canada’s airlines gave credits – rather than cash back – to customers whose uninsured tickets were cancelled in the pandemic. The airlines pointed to a statement from the Canadian Transportation Agency that said credits were an acceptable remedy given the financial hardships the airlines faced in the pandemic.

Financial aid from taxpayers unveiled by the government in April allowed Air Canada and Transat AT Inc. to give refunds for flights and tickets cancelled beginning in mid-March, 2020, when countries closed borders, told people not to travel to limit the spread of COVID-19 and imposed quarantines on people returning from abroad.

Canada’s airlines halted flights, cancelling billions of dollars worth of airfares.

But Porter Airlines and Sunwing Airlines have still not offered refunds for most cancelled flights, and WestJet Airlines has restricted its refunds to tickets the airline cancelled – not the customer.

The three airlines and government say bailout talks are taking place, but will not say when agreements will bereached, nor when customers will get their money back.

WestJet has said it would not take a government loan, but might agree to a government-backed line of credit that would pay for refunds, according to a person familiar with the matter whom The Globe and Mail is not naming because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Margaret Jones of River John, N.S., is waiting for a refund worth $4,630 for a Sunwing Vacations trip she had planned to take with her husband in March, 2020. The trip included a Sunwing flight from Halifax to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and several days aboard a cruise ship.

She has a credit for the amount of the trip, but prefers to get her money back as she has no plans to travel. “My husband’s not in the greatest of health,” Ms. Jones said in a phone interview. “He’s 84 and I’m 78 – we definitely don’t want to go on a cruise in the future, and if we take a vacation we don’t want to go to a resort that is full of people from all over the world and you don’t know whether they have had vaccinations.”

Sunwing received a government loan worth as much as $375-million in February through a pandemic program called the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) – the same program Air Canada and Transat tapped to provide refunds to their customers.

But rather than offer refunds, the government allowed Sunwing to hold money in an account from customers whose flights were cancelled “until a policy is established for the treatment of these prepaid amounts,” the government said in February.

“Sunwing supposedly has all this money in an account somewhere – gaining interest, no doubt – and supposedly will be returning it at some point, but what we all need to know is: When?” Ms. Jones said. “We’re fed up with waiting.”

Sunwing spokesperson Melanie Filipp said talks with the government are continuing. “We look forward to continuing discussions on the issue of refunds for customers with non-refundable bookings who have received a future travel credit amid the pandemic,” she said.

Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, declined to comment on talks with Sunwing, Porter and WestJet, or when aid packages could be announced. Ms. Kuplinskas reiterated the government’s statement that any aid for airlines will come with conditions that include refunds for customers.

Brad Cicero, a spokesman for Porter Airlines, said the Toronto-based airline is in talks for a LEEFF loan, but added that details are confidential and a resolution date in unknown.

WestJet has yet to provide refunds for people who cancelled their own ticket, but in October became the first Canadian airline to offer refunds for uninsured seats on flights the carrier cancelled.

“WestJet took this step without having received government support, unlike many of our global competitors,” WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell said.

Taxpayers gave Air Canada a loan worth as much as $1.4-billion to provide customer refunds, part of a $5.9-billion government bailout the airline received. The airline said on June 10 that 40 per cent of 1.8 million eligible customers had applied for a refund.

Transat received a government bailout worth $700-million, $310-million of which is to pay for refunds. Annick Guérard, Transat’s chief executive officer, said on June 10 that customers have applied for 64 per cent of the total amount.

Transat’s decision to withhold refunds and offer credits until the government provided a loan was necessary for the health of the airline, which has not flown since January, “but not one that we have made with a light heart,” Ms. Guérard said.

Flight restart date for Saint John Airport pushed back, more airlines added

From CBC News – link to source story

Air Canada flights now scheduled to return on June 30, with a total of five airlines set to hit the runway

Marie Sutherland · CBC News · May 25, 2021

An Air Canada flight from Montreal arrives at the Saint John Airport in the pre-pandemic days. The restart dates for many airlines have been tweaked ahead of the province’s reopening plan announcements, with flights now scheduled to resume on July 2. (Roger Cosman/CBC file photo)

The restart date for flights out of Saint John Airport has been pushed back again ahead of New Brunswick’s reopening-plan announcements, with flights out of YSJ now scheduled to resume on June 30.  

The restart date, which was previously set at June 1, has always been a bit of a moving target because of the shifting COVID-19 landscape, acting CEO Greg Hierlihy said in an interview Tuesday.

“All the airlines, as are we, are looking for and monitoring the reopening plans,” Hierlihy said. “New Brunswick and Atlantic provinces are announcing their reopening plans in the near future, so they’re all going to watch to see what those look like.”

But once they do get going, there will be quite the buffet of options to choose from.

“We have several airlines lined up to fly Saint John, so we’re thrilled about that,” Hierlihy said.

The latest restart dates for Saint John Airport flights are as follows:

  • Air Canada plans to restart flights to YSJ as of June 30 
  • Flair Airlines, an ultra-low-cost carrier, plans to begin flights July 2 
  • PAL Airlines has also joined the roster, with daily flights to Halifax five days a week to start on Aug. 2 
  • Porter Airlines has delayed its network-wide restart to July 21
  • And by wintertime, when you’re really ready for an escape, Sunwing Airlines plans to resume flights down south on Feb. 5
Acting CEO Greg Hierlihy says that a total of at least five airlines will fly into and out of Saint John once things start moving again, hopefully by the end of June. (Credit: Brian Comeau)

Reopening plans key to flights resuming

Could these dates change again?

It’s possible, Hierlihy said, noting it all revolves around travel restrictions and the amount of demand airlines anticipate.

“If the restrictions aren’t loosened on non-essential travel and 14-day [quarantines], the chances of them launching the service are quite low,” he said.

“They have to see in these reopening plans what the path is to loosening those restrictions. That would be the key criteria.”

Airlines have been buffeted by constantly changing pandemic developments, including the postponement of the planned April 19 reopening of the Atlantic bubble and variant outbreaks popping up in provinces across the country.

But a steadily widening vaccine rollout is starting to bite into those numbers, fuelling hope and reopening plans. 

Higgs suggests reopening plans are imminent

At Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province has made “incredible progress” in the vaccine rollout, noting he expects that 60 per cent of New Brunswickers will be vaccinated by the end of this week.

He also suggested preliminary discussions for a New Brunswick reopening are underway.

“The rollout plan that we will jointly put together and release will reflect us reaching those targeted levels of 75 per cent”  of the population receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

“Hopefully over coming few days to a week we’ll be able to outline a path, monitoring closely what we see right now … how well we are able to contain [the outbreak] in the Fredericton area and understand exactly where the issues are arising.”

Hierlihy said he’ll be watching for any news of reopening plans closely.

“We’re optimistic that once we get going there’ll be demand, and we’ve got a variety of airlines that are going to fly out” of Saint John, Hierlihy said.

Once they do, what’s the first getaway on his list?

“Probably Kelowna,” he said. “I love it there. … And probably for sure March break I’ll be going somewhere south.”

Porter in talks with Pearson, other airports for passenger jet service


A Porter Airlines flight makes its final approach as it lands at the airport on July 2, 2019 in Ottawa. ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Porter Airlines has approached Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and other airports in southern Ontario about establishing a passenger jet service postpandemic, sources say, a shift in strategy for the carrier that is blocked from flying jets at its base on the Toronto Islands.

Porter’s move comes as the carrier is reportedly buying 30 passenger jets from Embraer of Brazil.

Porter has long sought to fly jets out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, but those plans have been prevented by the federal government owing to concerns that include noise, pollution and the impact of the longer runway that would be required.

“We’re not relocating from Billy Bishop to any airport,” said Brad Cicero, a Porter spokesman, who declined to address a question about seeking slots at Toronto Pearson.

Porter’s founder and executive chairman Robert Deluce did not respond to interview requests. Porter declined to make Michael Deluce, the founder’s son and current chief executive, available for an interview.

Porter’s talks with the airport authorities are preliminary, according to two people familiar with the matter whom the Globe and Mail agreed not to name because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

In addition to Toronto Pearson, Porter has approached airports including Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener and London, one of the sources said. The airports declined to comment or did not respond to interview requests.

On May 13, trade publication Airfinance Journal reported Porter is the buyer of 30 Embraer E195 E2 jets, a narrow-body medium-range jet that seats as many as 150 people. Embraer declined by e-mail to name the buyer of the jets.

Porter flies a fleet of 29 Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes that hold about 65 to 78 people.

Mr. Cicero would not answer questions about the reported purchase of the Embraer planes. “This isn’t our order,” he said. “We have no plans to switch our fleet. Our focus continues to be on relaunching operations in 2021 with the existing Dash 8-400 fleet.”

John Gradek, who teaches aviation leadership at McGill University, said Porter has no room to grow at its Toronto island airport base, and is forced to fly planes at less-than capacity owing to the short, 3,900-foot runway. He speculated the airline is relaunching itself with a new fleet prior to a sale. (Porter’s public offering in 2010 failed.)

“It’s a radical departure from the airline that we know,” said Addison Schonland of boutique aerospace consultancy AirInsight. “The business model looks like it is changing.”

Porter in 2013 placed a $2-billion conditional order for as many as 30 Bombardier CSeries jets, now known as the Airbus A220. The airline sought to extend the island airport runway by 200 metres to accommodate the larger aircraft but faced stiff local opposition.

In 2015, then transport minister Marc Garneau blocked Porter’s plans to fly jets from the island.

That decision stands, a spokeswoman for current Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said. “Our government has no plans to amend the tripartite agreement between the federal government, the City of Toronto and PortsToronto to allow jet aircraft to use Billy Bishop Airport,” Allison St-Jean said.

“There are no plans or negotiations to discuss jets at Billy Bishop Airport with either of our tripartite partners,” said Deborah Wilson, a spokeswoman for PortsToronto, the government agency that owns and operates the airport.

An Airbus spokeswoman said: “While we of course would welcome more Canadian carriers to select the Canadian designed and built A220, we do not comment on discussion we may or may not be having with airlines.”

Porter’s 2013 order is not part of Airbus’s backlog list, which had 494 planes ordered but not yet built at the end of April, 2021. Airbus is building A220 jets at a rate of five a month in factories in Mirabel, Que. and Mobile, Ala., with plans to expand output when appropriate to a maximum of 14 planes a month.

Porter, which has not flown since March 21, 2020, owing to the pandemic, recently pushed back its relaunch date to July 20.

Privately-owned Porter, which employed 1,500 before the pandemic, flies to several Canadian, U.S. and holiday destinations, but is perhaps best known for business travel given its proximity to downtown Toronto. Business travel is expected to recover from the pandemic last, after family-related flights and tourism.

In good times, Porter accounts for 85 per cent of plane traffic at the island airport, while Air Canada makes up the rest. Porter sold the airport terminal to Nieuport Aviation, controlled by New York-based J.P. Morgan Asset Management Inc., in 2015 for more than $700-million.

Neil Pakey, CEO of Nieuport, declined to comment on Porter’s plan for jets at other airports. Mr. Pakey said he and the airline are focused on Porter’s restart in July.

Porter’s talks come as it continues discussions with the federal government over financial aid to blunt the effects of the pandemic on the business. In March, 2020, the airline received a $135-million loan through Export Development Canada and indicated earlier in May that it is in negotiations for more aid. The government has said any help from the taxpayer comes with conditions that include “protecting jobs across the air sector.”

Fredericton Airport Lost $2.6 million in 2020

From Huddle.Today – link to source story

May 17, 2021by Aaron Sousa

Fredericton International Airport. Image: Facebook.

FREDERICTON —The Fredericton International Airport lost around $2.6 million last year, but its leadership is confident business will soon return to where it was pre-Covid-19.

Those were the key messages shared at the airport’s annual general meeting, held through Facebook Live on May 14.

Johanne Gallant, president and CEO of the airport, said the authority started its first quarter on a “very good note,” but that changed in March 2020 when Covid-19 forced companies like Porter Airlines and Air Canada to ground or drastically reduce flights.

Gallant said passenger traffic in Fredericton’s terminal dropped significantly, going from approximately 427,000 passengers in 2019 to around 103,000 passengers in 2020. She expects that number to be lower this year due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“But we’re being very optimistic right now with the vaccination rollout that these flights will be back in no time, hopefully this summer,” said Gallant.

Kenny Kyle, chair of the audit committee and board of directors member, said the surplus of $2.6 million the airport saw in 2019 turned into a deficit last year. The change, which sits around $5.2 million, is a result of a $7.5 million drop in revenue, ranging from passenger terminal fees to concessions.

Despite receiving government subsidies, Kyle said it “fell well short” of what was needed to recover operational losses. As a result, the airport looked at ways to handle its budget, which involved restricting spending to essentials, using capital project funds and reducing its workforce.

But one of the silver linings of the pandemic, according to Gallant, was the recent expansion of the airport’s terminal, which finished ahead of time and under budget. Gallant said there were few delays in the project because the authority hired local companies that didn’t need to worry about health restrictions.

The airport also acquired new funding that will go towards two new fire trucks in addition to airfield electrical work. Part of that money, estimated to be around two to three million dollars, comes from Transport Canada’s Airport Relief Fund. The news comes as the Saint John Airport announced last week it’ll receive around $1 million.

While the airport had fewer passengers, public relations and marketing manager Kate O’Rourke said it has been busier than ever.

The airport was the first in New Brunswick to receive Airport Council International’s health accreditation after implementing Public Health measures. The honour means it follows the best practices “for the pandemic era.”

O’Rourke also announced the airport is pleased that Newfoundland and Labrador’s PAL Airlines will begin offering flights this summer. She said this is a service passengers have requested prior to the pandemic and is a great opportunity to explore the Atlantic bubble once it opens.

“We’re working hard to build this business back so that we welcome back our colleagues and our travellers when the time is right,” said O’Rourke.

“We know how to grow and we’re going to do that again once this pandemic is over.”

Aaron Sousa is a summer intern for Huddle. 

July 20 set as new tentative date for restarting flights by Porter Airlines

TORONTO, May 17, 2021 /CNW/ – Porter Airlines is resetting its tentative date for resuming flights to July 20.

“It’s encouraging to see the recovery of the aviation industry in the U.S.,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. “As vaccination rates in Canada increase, we are hopeful travel restrictions and public health measures will ease, so we can recall our team members, welcome back our passengers and begin to rebuild the airline.”

Porter previously set June 21, as its tentative restart date. Operations were temporarily suspended on March 21, 2020, due to COVID-19.

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®.


Did Canada’s Big Airlines Cut Enough Flights During The Pandemic?

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Jake Hardiman | May 14, 2021

One of the most conspicuous impacts of the coronavirus on aviation has been its decimation of flight schedules. The last year or so has seen widespread cancellations due to the restrictions and drops in demand brought about by the pandemic. However, the question has recently arisen as to whether Canadian carriers should have cut even more flights.

Porter Airlines Dash 8
Porter Airlines Chair Donald Carty believes that Canada’s larger carriers should have made more cuts.     Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Not enough cancellations?

In an interview with Bloomberg, Donald Carty recently revealed that he believes Canada’s larger airlines could have cut more flights last year. Carty, who is the Chair of Canadian regional carrier Porter Airlines, argued that the likes of Air Canada and WestJet “probably flew more than made economic sense” at the peak of the crisis last year.

His position is based on the fact that a lack of initial government support meant that the flights that did operate couldn’t always cover their costs. He explained to Bloomberg that:

My bet would be, if you talk to the CEO at Air Canada and the CEO at WestJet, (…) they might have been better off to ground more flights. (…) They’ve been flying around with airplanes that are far from full, and not sufficiently full to pay for the operation.

Air Canada Airbus A220
Carty argues that carriers may have flown more than made sense. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

A contrasting approach to the US

Regarding the recovery of commercial aviation in the country, Carty contrasted Canada’s approach with that of the neighboring US. He added that:

The US government took the approach that they didn’t want the airlines laying off any employees, so they offered the airlines financial support. And in return, the airlines agreed to no layoffs. So an awful lot of the money the US airlines got flowed directly to the employees. And once the employees were locked in, they became a fixed cost for the airline.”

However, with the Canadian government not having offered such widespread and instant support. This forced the country’s airlines to ground flights, and, in turn, to make job layoffs. The difficulty is finding the right balance in terms of keeping as many employees onboard as possible while only operating flights that sufficiently cover their costs.

WestJet Boeing 737-76N C-GRWS
WestJet, the second-largest Canadian airline, laid off an additional 400 pilot jobs just over a month ago. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Porter isn’t currently flying

While Mr Carty has accused Canadian carriers of not cutting enough flights, this certainly can’t be said for his own airline. Indeed, in March 2020, Porter decided to temporarily suspend its operations on a company-wide scale. Carty told Bloomberg that:

We decided that, as the border was closed, access to Atlantic Canada was closed, and many of our other short haul flights had driving as an alternative, we needed to preserve this airline, for our team members and our guests to come back to. And so we grounded the entire airline.”

Porter Airlines Dash 8
Porter grounded its entire fleet in March 2020. Photo: Getty Images

Multiple delays to Porter’s resumption

The plan was that this suspension would last three months. However, as the pandemic has progressed, Porter has rescheduled its resumption several times. For now, it is aiming to lift off once again in June, 15 months after the initial suspension. Carty added:

We are in talks, as other airlines have been with the government, around how the government can help airlines get back on their feet. And I have no doubt Porter will be back on its feet, as soon as we see the traffic strengthen in Canada. And we’re hoping that the summer will be that time.”

It will be interesting to see how commercial aviation’s recovery pans out in Canada, particularly as we enter the traditionally busy summer period. Of course, business travel will likely recover much slower. As such, it will be key that airlines can take advantage of the pent-up demand for leisure travel, which may lead to a boom on holiday routes.

Air Canada, WestJet, Transat, Sunwing and more: The latest updates amid the coronavirus pandemic

From Travelweek Canada – link to source story

TORONTO — Canada’s airlines took swift action amid border closures and travel restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s the latest from Canada’s airlines. This list is updated as we receive new information from each company. The latest information can always be found at the company’s website.

LATEST UPDATE: April 28, 2021 – Air North; April 15, 2021 – WestJet; April 7, 2021 – Sunwing

Additional updates below from Canadian Aviation News.


UPDATE from Canadian Aviation News: 14 April 2021 – Air Canada is extending its suspension of most sun destination flights through the end of May 2021.

UPDATED JAN. 29, 2021: Air Canada, along with Canada’s four other major carriers, has suspended its winter season sun flights effective Jan. 31 through April 30, upon request from the federal government. Impacted passengers can opt for future travel credits or refunds. More details are here:


Air North, Yukon’s Airline is currently flying with a reduced schedule due to COVID and offering flights between Whitehorse and Vancouver, Kelowna, and Victoria. Effective May 5 Air North will be resuming flights between Whitehorse and Calgary & Edmonton as well. For more information on Air North’s schedule go to


UPDATED MARCH 31, 2021: Flair Airlines is expanding its network starting May 1 with service being added to Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, Halifax and Saint John, plus service starting in June to Thunder Bay and Charlottetown. Service to Victoria is set to begin in July, and to Abbotsford in August. Flair will also add Montreal to its network effective July 1. The airline’s latest change policies are at


UPDATE from Canadian Aviation News: 12 April 2021 — Porter Airlines sets tentative restart date to 21 June 2021.

UPDATED MARCH 2, 2021: Porter Airlines has pushed back its planned restart date to May 19, 2021. Further updates will be provided this winter based on the status of the pandemic and government measures, said President and CEO Michael Deluce.


UPDATED APRIL 7, 2021: Sunwing’s domestic summer program is now open for bookings. Flights start in May 2021 and run until the beginning of September 2021. Sunwing, along with Canada’s four other major carriers, suspended its winter season sun flights effective Jan. 31, upon request from the federal government. Originally suspended through April 30, on April 1 Sunwing announced it was extending the suspension through June 23. Sunwing has also cancelled domestic flights to/from B.C. and Newfoundland from May 1 to June 23, 2021. Customers or their travel agents impacted by cancelled flights are being contacted by Sunwing directly to review their options. For the most up to date information see


UPDATED JAN. 29, 2021: Swoop, as part of the WestJet Group of companies, has suspended its winter season sun flights effective Jan. 31 through April 30, upon request from the federal government.


UPDATED JAN. 29, 2021: Transat, along with Canada’s four other major carriers, has suspended its winter season sun flights effective Jan. 31 through April 30, upon request from the federal government. Impacted passengers can opt for future travel credits or refunds. Transat’s FTCs are fully transferable, with no expiry date.  More information for Transat can be found here.


UPDATE from Canadian Aviation News: 14 April 2021 – WestJet is extending its suspension of most sun destination flights to 4 June 2021.

UPDATED APRIL 15, 2021: WestJet, along with Canada’s four other major carriers, suspended its winter season sun flights effective Jan. 31 through April 30, upon request from the federal government. On April 13 WestJet advised that it was extending that suspension until June 4, 2021. More details are at

Ottawa to take equity stake in Air Canada as part of multibillion-dollar relief package

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story


An Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner takes off from Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on Dec. 11, 2019.DANIEL SLIM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The federal government will take an equity stake in Air Canada as part of a multibillion-dollar pandemic rescue plan for the country’s largest airline.

The government will allow Air Canada to access up to $5.9-billion through the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) program, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced. As part of the package, Ottawa is buying $500-million of Air Canada stock, or 21.6 million shares, at just over $23 each and has the right to buy 14 million more. The federal government’s voting interest in the airline is capped at just below 20 percent.

“This will give the Canadian government a stake in the company,” Ms. Freeland told a virtual news conference in Toronto. “This support comes with strict conditions to protect Canadian travellers, Canadian taxpayers and Air Canada’s workers. Air Canada workers’ jobs, pensions and collective agreements will be protected.”

Before the announcement, Air Canada and other airlines had resisted the idea of equity stakes over concerns about government meddling.

Canada’s other carriers will line up for financing on similar terms, predicted John Gradek, a business professor at McGill University who worked in the airline industry. He said: “Everyone will be at the trough.”

Ottawa is providing $5.375-billion in repayable loans to Air Canada, including a $1.4-billion credit facility on which the airline can draw to refund customers for flights cancelled because of the pandemic. Air Canada holds $2.3-billion in prepaid fares, including cancelled flights, according to company documents. Travel agents who were paid commissions to book cancelled flights will not be required to repay them.

Under the rescue package, Air Canada will not be able to use the money to buy back its own shares, and executive compensation will be capped at $1-million. It also requires Air Canada to immediately restore key regional routes and current orders for 33 Airbus A220 aircraft produced in Montreal.

“It was very important to get a good deal for Canadians,” Ms. Freeland said. “The government of Canada expects to be be fully paid back.”

Air Canada shares closed at $27 on Monday, well above the price the government is paying.

Michael Sabia, the veteran corporate executive recently recruited as deputy minister of finance, finalized the package over the weekend. The former chief executive officer of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec took the reins for the negotiations from Transport Canada after he was recruited as Ms. Freeland’s deputy in mid-December.

Air Canada president and chief executive officer Michael Rousseau said the airline raised nearly $7-billion during the pandemic as air traffic was halted, but needed additional access to capital.

The federal aid “enables us to better resolve customer refunds of non-refundable tickets, maintain our workforce and re-enter regional markets,” he said. “Most importantly, this program provides additional liquidity, if required, to rebuild our business to the benefit of all stakeholders and to remain a significant contributor to the Canadian economy through its recovery and for the long term.”

Industry leaders welcomed the support for the airline industry. The deal “recognizes the unique challenges faced by Canada’s hard-hit travel sector in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Goldy Hyder, chief executive officer of the Business Council of Canada. “But government assistance is only one step. To get Canadians flying again and to bring back jobs, we need a clear plan for the economic restart.”

Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff said the deal is good for Air Canada workers, for communities dependent on regional air service and Canadians who felt cheated out of their refunds.

Rival carriers such as Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. were not included in the package announced on Monday, but negotiations with the government are continuing. Late Monday, WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said the company already paid refunds in a manner consistent with carriers in the U.S. and Europe and “continues to operate self-sufficiently with the exception of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which flows through directly to our employees.”

Smaller carriers such as Porter Airlines and Transat A.T. Inc. welcomed the government’s support for the country’s largest airline. “This is a positive sign,” Transat spokesman Christophe Hennebelle said. “Our discussions are very advanced, and we trust that the government will have a fair approach towards all industry players, so this makes us even more confident that we will also receive help in the coming weeks.”

Porter spokesman Brad Cicero said: “We look forward to a broader industry solution being finalized as part of our continuing discussions with the government.”

Talks between Mr. Sabia and the industry have been going on for months, with all the participants signing non-disclosure agreements as Finance Department officials delved deeply into the financial records of airlines.

Mr. Gradek said the catalyst for the deal between Air Canada and the government was last week’s pandemic lockdowns in Ontario and British Columbia.

“Air Canada was pushed into this agreement by the new constraints on demand for flights,” Mr. Gradek said. “If you look at airlines around the world, most have accepted government support in order to keep their professional employees trained and on staff, so they can start flying again when the pandemic eases.”

U.S., Asian and European airlines have accepted government bailouts that include direct equity investments and boardroom influence. Last Tuesday, the French government agreed to contribute to a €4-billion recapitalization of Air France-KLM and more than double its stake to nearly 30 per cent. Last May, the German government invested €9-billion in Lufthansa, and holds a 20 per cent stake, along with the right to veto a hostile takeover of the airline.

Globally, governments have put an estimated US$183-billion into the aviation industry during the pandemic, according to British-based consulting firm Ishka.

Air Canada’s revenues declined by 70 per cent last year to $5.8-billion, as the pandemic kept passengers off planes. The airline lost $3.8-billion in 2020, compared to a $1.7-billion profit in 2019.

Early this month, Air Canada called off its planned $180-million takeover of Transat because of concerns from European Union competition regulators. Air Canada agreed to pay Transat a $12.5-million termination fee.

June 21 set as new tentative date for restarting flights by Porter Airlines

TORONTO, April 12, 2021 /CNW/ – Porter Airlines is resetting its tentative date for resuming flights to June 21.

“In recent weeks, there has been open discussion by government officials about easing travel restrictions based on expectations that vaccination programs will be well advanced in the U.S. and Canada by early summer,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. “We recognize that short-term public health measures have been enhanced recently in certain jurisdictions. At the same time, we are looking ahead to summer and preparing for the possibility of some travel restrictions unwinding. We will begin the process of rebuilding our operations as soon as conditions allow based on government decisions.”

Porter previously set May 19, as its tentative restart date. Operations were temporarily suspended on March 21, 2020, due to COVID-19.

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®.

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.