Air Canada is suspending all flights to and from the Sydney Airport at the start of the new year.
It’s the latest blow to an airport that has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying travel restrictions.
In a release issued Tuesday, the CEO of J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport said Air Canada informed him that all flights between Toronto and Sydney and between Halifax and Sydney will halt on Jan. 11, 2021, as a result of low passenger demand
“This is a massive blow, absolutely catastrophic to Cape Breton Island,” said Mike MacKinnon in the press release.
“Our airport has been repeatedly slashed by air service cuts ever since the pandemic began. … On top of the recent WestJet route suspensions, (this) is effectively the final nail in the coffin for air service to/from our community for the foreseeable future.”
Before the pandemic, J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport received flights from both Air Canada and WestJet with service from Halifax and Toronto as well as seasonal flights from Montreal.
But with WestJet’s decision in October to suspend 80 per cent of the airline’s capacity in Atlantic Canada, the airport is now in dire straits.
The decision by Air Canada effectively means the second-largest city in Nova Scotia no longer receives any flights from major carriers.
MacKinnon is once again issuing a call for the federal government to support the aviation industry, which has suffered due to COVID-19 restrictions.
He says nothing has been done to remove the barriers to domestic travel in Atlantic Canada despite watching the “industry collapse route by route and station by station.”
“I am holding onto a glimmer of hope that our airport will get back up and running again after winter hibernation,” MacKinnon said.
“I do know that this will take a coordinated approach with help from our province to implement testing and financial support from the federal government for our airline partners.”
As well as the cuts to Sydney, the Atlantic Canada Airports Association says Air Canada has suspended all flights in Saint John.
Air Canada has since confirmed the news and say they have also temporarily suspended the following services in Atlantic Canada:
- Deer Lake to Halifax
- Fredericton to Toronto
- Charlottetown to Toronto
- Halifax to Ottawa
In a statement, Air Canada says they continue to have significantly reduced traffic as a result of COVID-19.
“This decision was not taken lightly and we regret the impact on our customers and community partners, but it is increasingly difficult to continue to operate in this challenging environment, without specific financial support from government, with whom continue to wait for negotiations to start,” a statement from the company reads.
“Air Canada is still carrying less than eight per cent of its normal passenger volumes due to factors beyond our control and with no horizon for recovery.”