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Atlantic airports preparing for pandemic take off

Click to play video: 'Atlantic airports prepare for takeoff' Atlantic airports prepare for takeoff
WATCH: Airports in Atlantic Canada are preparing for routes to return after months of sitting idle. Travis Fortnum reports. – Jun 16, 2021

After six months without commercial flights, the Saint John, N.B., airport is preparing to once again see travel return.

Air Canada, which suspended service to YSJ in the winter amid COVID-19 travel droughts, will restart three weekly routes to and from Montreal on June 29.

On July 2, the airline will offer four routes to and from Toronto.

Budget carrier Flair Airlines will make its debut at the airport July 3 – about a year later than initially planned thanks to the pandemic.

Flair will host two flights a week to and from Toronto.

READ MORE: Air Canada delays return to Saint John Airport

But that’s not all for YSJ.

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PAL Airlines, which offers flights around the east coast and Quebec, is slated to taxi on the tarmac come Aug. 2 – with Halifax-bound routes five days a week.

All this makes about 14 weekly flights for the Saint John Airport by summer’s end.

“I think it will take some time to get back to where we were in 2019 but it’s definitely a good start,” says Jacques Fournier, the airport’s director of commercial development.

“It’s good for Saint John, it’s good for the province, it’s good for the economy and definitely good for the airport.”

These routes aren’t set in stone, Fournier says, with airlines gauging interest.

But after reporting a $4.9 million revenue loss at its annual general meeting, it’s promising.

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READ MORE: COVID-19 testing at Halifax airport begins Tuesday

In Nova Scotia, also looking forward to the resumption of travel is Sydney’s J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport.

“It’s exciting news! People are going to start travelling again,” says CEO Mike MacKinnon.

He says that the airport’s finances are in OK shape, having come into the pandemic with its books in order, but Cape Breton Island residents have been feeling pretty cut off.

That airport has also been without commercial flights since January.

“Seeing flights come back, obviously it’s going to help with those people and business folks and it’s great to see staff returning to the airport,” says MacKinnon.

J.A. Douglas will see commercial flights return next week, with Air Canada reinstating a route to and from Toronto on June 26.

WestJet will bring back service between Sydney and Halifax on June 28, with PAL joining the mix in July.

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