Today’s announcement by Air Canada that is suspending our only commercial flight is sending waves of disappointment through City Hall. The airline has served notice it will suspend the flight between Saint John and Montreal effective January 11th.
Mayor Don Darling says it is disappointing news – but – he vows the city will “make every effort to engage with the airline, our federal and provincial governments and regional stakeholders to identify potential solutions to restore service as quickly as possible.”
Part of the effort includes lobbying the provincial government to move forward with rapid COVID-19 testing to reduce the amount of time travellers have to self-isolate while ensuring public safety is maintained. The mayor says it is vital the Saint John airport continue to serve as an essential transportation link to the region as our local economy continues to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Darling says “the City will be urging the Government of Canada to provide funding to airlines so they can continue to provide regional air service to Atlantic Canada. We will also be requesting additional Federal funding for operations at the Saint John airport to ensure it remains open to serve our community for medivac flights, charter & private flights, and will be ready to welcome back our commercial flights as soon as possible.”
The local airport was handling 17-flights daily before the pandemic hit in March. Between the lockdown in March and late May there were no commercial flights. Air Canada resumed the daily flight between here and Montreal in late Spring. The battered airline industry has been seeking federal assistance to help it recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic – so far nothing has been promised.
Saint John is also home to a large Air Canada call centre.