Air Canada cutting 30 domestic routes, closing stations at eight airports

Air Canada cutting 30 domestic routes, closing stations at eight airports

MONTREAL — Air Canada is suspending service on 30 regional routes and closing eight stations at smaller Canadian airports as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the travel industry.

The cuts, which reduce the flight options for travellers, come as a result of record-low travel demand amid ongoing border shutdowns and interprovincial restrictions, the carrier said.

“Provincial and federal government-imposed travel restrictions and border closures … are diminishing prospects for a near-to-mid-term recovery,” Air Canada said in a statement Tuesday.

The route cuts mainly affect travellers to and from the Maritimes, Quebec and Saskatchewan, with all but five of the cuts in those regions.

British Columbia, Alberta and the territories were left untouched by the withdrawal.

Air Canada also plans to close its counters at four airports in Quebec, two in Ontario, one in New Brunswick and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Other changes to its network and schedule and further service suspensions will be considered over the coming weeks, the airline said.

The loss of service could mean less direct flight routes or, “at an extreme,” the loss of all service, said Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

Air Canada Express is the only commercial airline to service Bathurst, N.B. — one of the cities where the company is pulling its airport station — leaving residents no choice but to hope another regional carrier will pick up the abandoned routes down the line, Kokonis said.

Air Canada’s scale-back speaks to the “highly restrictive” travel barriers facing airlines and a lack of financial support from Ottawa, he added.

“Canada continues to have an aviation system with cuffs locked around both hands,” Kokonis said in an email. “Air Canada and all other players in Canada’s aviation food chain are being pushed to the limit.”

Canada, unlike countries including France, Germany and the United States, has held off on sector-specific support for carriers. Instead Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rolled out financial aid available across industries, including the federal wage subsidy and loans starting at $60 million for large firms.

Air Canada laid off more than 20,000 workers — more than half of its staff — this month as part of a plan to cut costs.

The Montreal-based company has removed 79 planes from its mainline and Rouge fleets, chopping flight capacity by more than 85 per cent year over year, with only marginal improvement expected in the critical summer travel season of July through September.

The changes come as some confinement measures lift and Canadians slowly begin to brave air travel again, though Manitoba and the Maritimes still have restrictions on interprovincial travel in place while other provinces discourage it.

On Tuesday, the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed that the government will extend until July 31 the travel ban that bars entry to travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended a separate ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. until at least July 21.

Border shutdowns and record-low demand mean airlines around the world will lose US$84 billion this year and see a 50 per cent year-over-year revenue decline, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Air Canada is closing its stations at the following regional airports:

Bathurst, N.B.

Wabush, Nfld.

Gaspe, Que.

Baie Comeau, Que.

Mont Joli, Que.

Val d’Or, Que.

Kingston, Ont.

North Bay, Ont.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC, TSX:TRZ)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly stated the province for Kingston and North Bay

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Sylvan Lake Wranglers. File Photo
Sylvan Lake Wranglers ready for shorten hockey season

The HJHL will have a 20 game season, playing four games in a cohort and then going dark for 14 days

Decorate your vehicle for display at the second annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31 . (Blakc Press File Photo)
Sylvan Lake church to host a socially distanced Trunk or Treat on Halloween

Goblins and ghouls can go around to vehicles for their tricks or treats at the Alliance Church

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read