Porter Airlines returns, Flair to expand service out of Saint John Airport

From CBC News – link to source story

Within weeks, travellers will also be able to book pre-flight COVID-19 tests at airport, acting CEO says

Marie Sutherland · CBC News · Posted: October 5, 2021

Porter Airlines service to Saint John Airport returns on Wednesday. (Porter Airlines)

Flight service is steadily ramping up at Saint John Airport since its reopening three months ago, with Porter Airlines set to return this week and Flair Airlines planning to expand its flight roster.

The airport, which saw all commercial flights cancelled in December amid pandemic travel restrictions, welcomed their return on June 29 with an Air Canada flight from Montreal.

Since then, acting CEO Greg Hierlihy said Monday, business has been brisk — driven almost entirely by leisure travel and the pent-up demand from individuals separated from loved ones — and is poised to get brisker.

On Wednesday, Porter Airlines flights return to Saint John, with afternoon service to Ottawa and on to Toronto.

“They are all set to go … six days a week to Ottawa and then on to [Toronto’s] Billy Bishop airport on Toronto Island,” Hierlihy said. Flights leave at 3:25 p.m. every day, with the exception of Saturdays.

And Flair Airlines, an ultra-low-cost carrier that chose Saint John as its only New Brunswick destination, is planning to expand its current two-day-a-week service to Toronto to three days a week in March of next year.

Flair Airlines plans to expand its flights from Saint John Airport to Toronto to three days a week next year, up from the two days a week currently offered. (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Those plans have been propelled by strong uptake on their flights, which now run Wednesday and Saturday. That’s changing to Tuesday and Saturday in November, and then to Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday next year, Hierlihy said.

“The uptake has been very good on that flight,” he said.

“We had several times during the month of August where it was sold out or virtually sold out. And we’re talking about, you know, a 189-seat jet.”

Even after Labour Day, when kids go back to school and family travel cools a bit, uptake has remained relatively strong.

“There’s been a bit of a decrease, but it still remained quite steady,” he said. “They’re really good numbers. So we’re we’re quite enthusiastic … about the possibilities there.”

Overall, he said, it’s an encouraging rebound after six punishing months.

If you’d asked me a few months ago, would I be happy with those numbers, I would have said yes, absolutely. It’s the start of the recovery.- Greg Hierlihy, Saint John Airport acting CEO

As of August, business at the airport is “at about 35 per cent of where we were” in August 2019, and indications so far are that that will increase to 50 per cent by the end of the year, Hierlihy said.

“If you’d asked me a few months ago, would I be happy with those numbers, I would have said yes, absolutely. It’s the start of the recovery.”

The return of business travel, which won’t likely happen until sometime in 2022, will provide another vital boost.

“We know that business travel is still very low at this point in time, so we’re waiting for that to bounce back,” Hierlihy said.

“That’s when you’ll really see our numbers come up.”

Saint John Airport acting CEO Greg Hierlihy says travellers will be able to take pre-travel COVID-19 tests at the airport within the coming weeks. (Credit: Brian Comeau)

COVID-19 travel tests will be available at YSJ

As travel increases, so will the demand for COVID-19 tests for passengers required to show proof of a negative test upon arrival at their destination.

Within the coming weeks, Hierlihy said, that service will be available at the Saint John Airport.

The airport has signed a lease contract with Distribution Ad Valorem, which currently offers the fee-for-service tests at the Moncton and Fredericton airports.

The company offers three testing options, including rapid antigen tests and the standard PCR tests, at a cost of between $149 and $299, depending on the type of test. The cost includes the provision of a certificate confirming date and time of testing, test result and passport number.

Hierlihy said the airport has taken several calls from travellers wondering where they can take the COVID-19 tests needed to comply with travel requirements.

“It’s hard to find that service in Saint John,” he said. “So we worked quickly to see if we could accommodate that in the airport.”

Hierlihy stressed that the tests are only for asymptomatic travellers, and must be prebooked online via the website of the airport offering the service.

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

Flair Airlines Focuses on Economic Recovery and Begins Long Awaited Ultra-Low-Cost Service in New Brunswick, Offering Fares Less than $50

Copyright (c) Hawthorn Photography

EDMONTON, Alberta, July 03, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), continues its growth with the inaugural service at Saint John Airport (IATA: YSJ) in New Brunswick starting today.

“New Brunswick deserves more choices and competition for air travel. The only way we are going to restart the travel and tourism sector and contribute to the economic recovery is by ensuring affordable options exist now and in the future,” says Stephen Jones, President and CEO, Flair Airlines. “Residents of the Saint John area have been paying way too much for way too long. Flair is here to ensure low-fares and top-notch service are readily available so we can all begin to connect again with the people and experiences we love.”

Jacques Fournier, Director of Airport Commercial Development for Saint John Airport added “I am unbelievably pleased to see Flair Airlines coming into the Saint John market. They are the only ULCC coming into New Brunswick and will bring a great option for the traveling public for the entire province. “

Saint John is among several new destinations Flair is adding to its network as the airline grows to serve 20 Canadian cities. Fares are available for less than $50 one-way. With an ambitious goal to grow to 50 aircraft in 5 years, Flair is rapidly expanding as it brings ULCC service to Canadians.

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 20 cities across Canada. For more information, please visit http://www.flyflair.com

Minister of Transport celebrates return of regional routes to Saint John Airport

From Wikipedia

SAINT JOHN, NB, July 2, 2021 /CNW/ – Airports and airlines are essential in connecting Canadians, creating good jobs and growing our economy. We know the global COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on the air sector. That is why the government of Canada has supported and continues to support our airports and airlines.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, and Member of Parliament for Saint John—Rothesay, Wayne Long, were at the Saint John Airport to welcome the arrival of Air Canada’s inaugural reinstated direct flight to Saint John from Toronto. This direct Toronto-Saint John route, and many other regional routes across the country, were reinstated by Air Canada as a result of the financial support package provided to the airline by the government in April 2021. The Minister concluded his visit to New Brunswick by taking this Air Canada flight back to Toronto.

To further support the air sector in the region, the Minister announced that the Saint John Airport will receive over $1.13 million from Transport Canada’s Airport Relief Fund to help the airport recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support continued essential air services for residents and workers in Saint John and its surrounding communities.  

In addition, the Minister highlighted that the Government of Canada is also providing the airport with $565,400 from Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program for the rehabilitation of the airfield’s apron floodlights and a device to regulate the electrical currents at the airport.

As we move forward with the safe, gradual return of activity in the aviation sector, both in Canada and internationally, it is imperative that we continue to ensure a vibrant and competitive Canadian air sector.


“Keeping communities across Canada connected is a top priority. Today’s return of regular flights to Saint John is a direct result of the investment our Government has made into the airline sector. This financial support will ensure that, as Canada works towards recovery and travel restart post pandemic, the Saint John Airport will be able to offer regional accessibility, and safe, reliable and efficient air services for residents and workers in Saint John and its surrounding communities.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“A vibrant and financially strong airport in Saint John is a critical part of our economy and is a key piece in our recovery. I am proud to advocate for our regional airports. Regional travel is critical in Atlantic Canada. Saint John Airport has worked hard to provide safe reliable travel in a post pandemic world for those here in New Brunswick and our government’s investment will help ensure they are equipped to serve the residents of Saint John and all of Canada.”

Wayne Long
Member of Parliament for Saint John—Rothesay

Quick Facts

  • On May 11, 2021, the Government of Canada launched the Airport Relief Fund which will provide $64.8 million for airports whose 2019 revenues were less than $250 million.
  • The amount of funding to each eligible recipient was calculated using a tiered formula-based approach, based on 2019 revenues.
  • Funding provided from the Airport Relief Fund must be used to cover activities that are directly related to the airport’s operations to ensure that the airport remains open to travellers and surrounding communities.
  • The Airports Capital Assistance Program is an existing contribution funding program which provides financial assistance to regional airports for safety-related capital infrastructure projects and equipment to ensure the continued safe operation of the airports for passengers, air crews and airport employees.
  • On May 11, 2021, the Minister announced that Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program was receiving a funding top-up of $186 million over two years and expanding its eligibility to larger airports like the Saint John Airport.

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SOURCE Transport Canada

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.

It’s official: First Air Canada flight will touch down at Saint John Airport on June 29

From CBC News – link to source story

Airport readies for post-pandemic relaunch as airline announces resumption of service dates for 50 airports

Marie Sutherland · CBC News · Jun 15, 2021

Saint John Airport acting CEO Greg Hierlihy says airline staff are onsite at the airport, training and preparing for flight resumption in two weeks. (Credit: Brian Comeau)

The first post-pandemic flights into and out of Saint John Airport have now been confirmed.

On June 29, exactly two weeks from today, Air Canada Flight ACA8790 from Montreal will touch down at YSJ at 9:18 p.m., officially reopening travel out of the airport. It will be the first commercial flight the airport has seen since January.

The airport’s first departure will follow on June 30 with an Air Canada flight to Montreal.

“It’s exciting,” acting CEO Greg Hierlihy said in an interview on Tuesday. “We’ve been waiting for this.”

From June 29 on, there will be three Air Canada flights a week to Montreal from Saint John, and four flights a week to Toronto, beginning in July.

Flair Airlines, an ultra low-cost carrier that has chosen Saint John Airport as its only New Brunswick destination, has confirmed it will begin flights out of YSJ on Saturday, July 3, Hierlihy said.

News comes as N.B. moves to Phase 1 of reopening

Earlier Tuesday, Air Canada released its resumption-of-services dates for 50 Canadian cities, including three new Western Canada routes.

Also on Tuesday, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health announced the province had hit its target of 75 per cent of the eligible population having a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

That launches Phase 1 of the province’s reopening plan at midnight, with loosened restrictions that will include the elimination of the steady-15 contacts requirement and allowing residents of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Cumberland County in Nova Scotia, and Avignon and Témiscouata, Que., to visit without having to isolate or get tested.

Hierlihy said he has not heard whether there will be any COVID-19 testing required at the airport.

“We don’t decide that,” he said. “As far as I know, there’ll be no testing, there’s been no talk about testing. That’s a Public Health decision … and we’ll follow whatever the protocol is.”

In the meantime, he said, the airport has brought office staff back full time, and several airlines also have staff onsite.

“Air Canada staff are in the building this week and are doing training” in preparation for the relaunch, as are Flair Airlines staff, Hierlihy said.  

“That’s a welcome sight,” he said. “That’s how we know it’s really real, seeing the people who are going to be manning the counter here, in the building. It’s great.” 

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

  • Most extensive domestic schedule supports Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector
  • Includes three new routes, re-established routes plus Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy Class cabins on select transcontinental routes
  • New refund policy gives additional peace of mind

MONTREAL, June 15, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada’s domestic peak summer schedule beginning at the end of June has been developed to advance the country’s economic recovery and support Canada’s tourism and hospitality businesses during the important summer period.  Three new domestic Canada routes, service to 50 Canadian airports, the re-establishment of select regional routes, and wide-body aircraft featuring Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy Class on select transcontinental routes are included. Seats with attractive pricing in all cabins are available for purchase now at aircanada.com, via the Air Canada App, Air Canada’s Contact Centres and travel agencies.

“With Canada’s ongoing vaccine roll-out acceleration together with various provincial governments’ reopening plans that include travel, this summer is looking brighter. As customers are ready to travel, Air Canada is taking a leadership position to support our partners in Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector with service to 50 destinations from coast to coast, the re-start of regional services and new, non-stop flights,” said Mark Galardo, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management at Air Canada.

“We are especially proud that our new state-of-the-art, Canadian-manufactured Airbus A220 aircraft will be operating across Canada. With our industry-leading CleanCare+ bio-safety protocols, promotional fares including for our premium cabins, compelling Aeroplan opportunities, and our new refund policy offering additional peace of mind, customers can book Air Canada with confidence.  We look forward to welcoming you onboard when you’re ready to fly,” concluded Mr. Galardo.

Air Canada’s new refund policy provides customers an option for a refund to the original form of payment in instances where Air Canada cancels their flight or reschedules the departure time by more than three hours, irrespective of the reason. Air Canada customers will also have the option of accepting an Air Canada Travel Voucher or Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus.  Normal fare rules will apply when customers make voluntary changes to non-affected flights.

New route details:

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

Resumption of services:

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

Air Canada is also providing connectivity to five additional regional communities through interline agreements with third party regional carriers: Wabush, Baie Comeau, Gaspe, Mont Joli, and Val d’Or.

Air Canada’s commercial schedule may be adjusted as required based on the COVID-19 trajectory and government restrictions.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2020 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.

Flair Airlines Extends Domestic Schedule into 2022

The growing ULCC has released its Winter 2021/22 schedule for sale with fares starting from as low as $19

Edmonton, Alberta, May 27, 2021 – Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), has expanded its schedule with flights to domestic destinations now on sale until March 2022.  With 24 routes and over 650,000 seats on sale, Winter 2021/22 will be Flair’s biggest ever winter schedule.

The winter schedule is part of Flair’s expansion of service to bring low fare air travel to more Canadians. The airline has 13 new aircraft on order joining the fleet in 2021 and 2022.

“We understand how keen Canadians are to travel again and our winter schedule will provide affordable air travel options to help connect the many families and friends who have been apart for the past year,” says Garth Lund, Chief Commercial Officer. “With fares available from as low as $19 and new aircraft joining the fleet, Flair will continue its expansion into the winter season.”

Bookings are now available for travel through March 26, 2022.


Air Canada delays return to Saint John Airport

From Global News – link to source story

By Tim Roszell, Global News | May 27, 2021

Click to play video: 'Saint John airport looks forward to better year'
Abstract: It’s going to be at least another month before travelers can fly in or out of the Saint John airport. But the facility’s acting CEO believes it can recover from another pandemic-ravaged year. Tim Roszell reports.

While the number of COVID-19 vaccinations continues to climb in New Brunswick, it’s going to be at least another month before travellers can fly into or out of Saint John Airport.

Air Canada had planned to bring flights back to Saint John on June 1, but its latest route information shows no flights scheduled until June 29, when it is slated to begin a route to Montreal. Saint John-to-Toronto flights are scheduled to begin July 1.

“It certainly is discouraging,” said Greg Hierlihy, Saint John Airport’s acting CEO. “But we weren’t surprised based on what’s going on across the country and with hot spots and with cases rising, we know, it’s understandable.”

Hierlihy admits there is an extra level of anticipation surrounding the airport.

Low-cost carrier Flair Airlines is due to launch July 2 after having its Saint John debut pandemic-delayed by a year. Porter Airlines plans a July 20 restart and regional carrier, PAL Airlines, brings its services to Saint John on Aug. 2.

Hierlihy said destination airline Sunwing has also confirmed a return.

Click to play video: 'Canadian airline industry calls for federal restart plan'Canadian airline industry calls for federal restart plan – May 10, 2021

He said he’s confident travellers will come back, eventually.

“It’ll obviously depend on the recovery and people’s willingness to travel,” Hierlihy said. “There’ll be a bit of a slow, steady recovery, we think. Eventually, we expect it to be — with adding the new airlines — quite busy in the airport which would be a great thing for us to see.”

There have been no commercial flights in or out of Saint John since early 2021. While those resumption schedules are in place, at least one industry analyst believes more needs to happen before passenger numbers rise throughout Atlantic Canada.

Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University, anticipates the possibility of vaccine passports, differing quarantine rules and other COVID-19-related issues will hamper the industry as a whole for some time.

He said opening provincial and international borders will be critical to its recovery in Atlantic Canada.

“We can get some tourism from within Canada,” Moore said. “That would be good this summer, but it’s the foreign tourists that are going to make a huge difference. It’s also business people going to and from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa and that sort of thing that’s going to help the demand for air travel.”

Hierlihy said he’ll be watching vaccination rates and case numbers over the coming weeks as the potential return of flights draws closer.

But he said he’ll also checking passenger levels in other provinces.

“There’s a little more movement in some other provinces in the country and we’ve seen what their seats and passenger rates have been,” he said.

Moore believes it will take several years for the industry to reach early 2019 passenger levels in the Atlantic region.

Hierlihy said he expects passenger levels in 2021 to be similar to 2020 levels, roughly 15 per cent. He said the airport lost $1.8 million last year and is trending toward the same number in 2021.

Click to play video: 'The Travel Lady: COVID-19 vaccines a ray of hope for travel industry'The Travel Lady: COVID-19 vaccines a ray of hope for travel industry – May 11, 2021

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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.”