New Brunswick

Air Canada cuts worry New Brunswick business community

Over the past few months, business travel has been replaced by Zoom calls and working from home, but as New Brunswick steadily reopens, the business community is concerned about the loss of six Air Canada routes.

Air Canada announced Tuesday it is suspending 30 domestic routes, including six in New Brunswick

David Duplisea, the CEO of the Saint John Chamber of Commerce, said the lost routes create a disconnect between Atlantic and the rest of the country. (Submitted by David Duplisea )

Over the past few months, business travel has been replaced by Zoom calls and working from home, but as New Brunswick steadily reopens, the business community is concerned about the loss of six Air Canada routes.

The CEO of the Saint John's Chamber of Commerce said he's worried about Atlantic Canada as a whole. 

"A robust air transportation network is really vital in Atlantic Canada, particularly," said David Duplisea. "We do need those dependable and timely links in order to make it an attractive place to live, work and play."

On Friday, Air Canada said it was suspending a total of six flights from three New Brunswick cities and closing its centre in Bathurst altogether. Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton all lost flights, including their only flights to Halifax.

Duplisea said the changes made by Air Canada are not surprising but they're disappointing.

Air Canada estimates it will take three years for the industry to bounce back. 

Aviation analysis John Gradek of McGill University said he thinks that's an optimistic estimate. He believes the timeline could be anywhere between three to five years.

But some of the suspended flights could start returning within a couple of years, he predicted. 

"I think everybody is looking at aviation as the problem child in the economy in terms of how quickly it will come back."

John Wishart, the CEO of the Moncton Chamber of Commerce, hope the cuts are temporary and some flights will return to normal after the need for travel comes back. 

John Wishart, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, is hopeful that when travel picks back up, some of the Air Canada routes will be brought back. (Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton website)

He said even though online meetings are becoming more normal it doesn't completely erase the need for travel. 

"We've kind of pivoted to some online ways to connect, but there's still a need to get to some of these major centres in central Canada."

Duplisea said this situation highlights the need for government intervention. He wants the government to look into what it can do to help.

"This announcement really underscores the needs of the federal government to look at support for this entire sector." 

Since Air Canada is no longer a Crown corporation, Gradek said, there is no real obligation on the government's part to step in. 

Duplisea also wants to push for some of the lost routes to resume when it becomes feasible. 

"The airport is a crucial piece of infrastructure in our local economy, so we need to see what we can do to support that."

With files from Information Morning Moncton and Information Morning Fredericton

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