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COVID-19: PAL Airlines lands for 1st time in Fredericton Monday as flights resume

Click to play video: 'New airline service out of Fredericton airport signals beginning of COVID-19 recovery' New airline service out of Fredericton airport signals beginning of COVID-19 recovery
WATCH: There was a sign of New Brunswick’s continued recovery from the pandemic at Fredericton International Airport on Monday morning. The first flight to Fredericton by Pal Airlines arrived to kick off its new service. Nathalie Sturgeon reports – Jun 28, 2021

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.

Read more: Air Canada cancels service to Fredericton International Airport

“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.

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“We’re looking forward to future growth,” he said. “We’ll see where the skies take us.”

Read more: As last flights leave some Maritime airports, locals are left wondering when they’ll return

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.”

Read more: Chambers of Commerce in N.B.’s 3 major cities rally against idea of 1 regional airport

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.

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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.

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