Air Canada flights to Prince Rupert have been cancelled as part of the COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan, the airline announced on Jan. 13.
“Air Canada will suspend all passenger operations effective Jan 23, 2021 to the Prince Rupert Airport, and to airports in Fredericton NB, Gander NL, Goose Bay NL, Yellowknife NWT, Kamloops BC, until further notice,” Air Canada told The Northern View in an email.
More than 1,700 Air Canada employees and an additional 200 employees at its Express carriers will be affected. The airline will reduce operations by 25 per cent for the balance of the first fiscal quarter of 2021. The reduction in capacity will leave Air Canada operating at just 20 per cent of its 2019 first-quarter numbers.
Karen Basso, owner and manager of Quadra Travel in Prince Rupert said she received an email stating that flights have been suspended in and out of Prince Rupert with the last flight leaving Jan. 22. At this point, she said she only knows what little information has been provided to her by Air Canada and will know more on Jan. 15 after a townhall zoom meeting with the airline.
“It’s not at all good for Prince Rupert,” she said. “We have a fair bit of industry here and they need to start making some noise.”
“It’s not just Prince Rupert, other centers … have lost their flights too. I can’t see it changing until COVID-19 goes away,” Basso said.
“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,” Lucie Guillemette, executive vice president, and chief commercial officer at Air Canada said in a media statement.
“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,” Guillemette said.
“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,” Guillemette said.
“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.”
An Air Canada media statement said it 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.
The Northern View has reached out to Prince Rupert Regional Airport for comment.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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