The Fredericton International Airport took one step toward the new normal as PAL Airline’s first flight landed on the tarmac Monday.
It was a flight from Newfoundland and Labrador provided by the new carrier and one of the first to fly in since the COVID-19 pandemic placed heavy restrictions on travel — both by land and air.
“We’re very excited for the launch of our Fredericton flight,” said PAL Airlines sales manager Stephen Short in an interview Monday. “The aircraft is en route with a full load on board of people excited to visit the Atlantic Bubble in New Brunswick.”
PAL Airlines, with headquarters in St. John’s, has been in the business for 40 years. He said the airline helped transport medical supplies and health care workers and felt less of an impact than other small airlines.
“We’re looking forward to future growth,” he said. “We’ll see where the skies take us.”
The demand for a direct flight from Newfoundland and Labrador has been high, the company added. Even more now as families look to reunite.
Johanne Gallant, the president and CEO of the Fredericton International Airport, said she couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she awaited the first PAL flight.
“I think like everybody else, it’s been difficult,” she said of the past 15 months. “It’s been very slow, and now we are seeing pick up into the travel industry.
“People want to go see friends and relatives and travel, and as the vaccination rollout is happening and our path to green, it’s really helping us get started again.”
WestJet announced last weekend it would resume flights, with Air Canada doing the same soon, Gallant said.
The flight operates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Short said. It will fly from Fredericton to Deer Lake and then to St. John’s.
PAL Airlines are also planning to launch flights from Fredericton to Ottawa and Fredericton to Halifax on July 30.
Mayor Kate Rogers was pleased to see the flight happened today. She took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony after the plane landed.
“On behalf of the City of Fredericton, I am excited to welcome PAL Airlines to our community and the newly renovated and expanded Fredericton International Airport,” she said.