Prince Rupert Regional Airport welcomed back the first Air Canada flight on June 25, after the commercial airline cancelled flights to the city in a COVID-19 recovery effort back in January.
More than 1,700 Air Canada employees and an additional 200 employees at its Express carriers were affected when the airline announced reduced operations by 25 per cent in pandemic mitigation efforts in the first fiscal quarter of 2021.
The Friday afternoon flight from Vancouver saw airport crews, staff, security, and baggage handlers all smile as they greeted the first lot air travellers in months to the Digby Island airport.
“Today was a great day to see customers back in the terminal. The flight appeared to have a decent load, so the demand is coming back,” Rick Leach airport manager said. “I think more people will be eager to fly as we move forward through the end of the pandemic.
“This is the busy tourist season here, so the restart will provide much relief for our communities and the airport,” he said.
Amy Perry, regional manager for G4S the company which oversees screening operations at regional airports, was in town with company representatives from Prince George and Alberta to assess the procedures and reinstatement of flights to the airport.
“Today went swimmingly. The staff is fantastic here in Prince Rupert. They are so customer orientated,” Perry said.
She said the staff is so adept and customer focussed on what they do it was like they never left.
“We even had one of those screening scenarios today where someone was flying out with three cats which can definitely cause a little bit of stress and anxiety for the traveling passengers. The staff took care of them with their usual care, like they haven’t been gone for a single day. Everything went perfectly.”
Currently, there are three flights in and out of the regional airport each week.
“We continue to look forward to our daily service that Air Canada will be starting on Aug. 1. We appreciate the patronage of the flying public and will do our best to provide a great customer experience,” Leach said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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