Nfld. & Labrador

Air Canada cuts all service in Labrador, St. John's to Toronto route axed

The company suspended a number of routes across the country Tuesday, citing a profound loss of business due to the pandemic.

Labrador left with 1 remaining carrier

Air Canada announced Tuesday that it will cancel three passenger flights out of Newfoundland and Labrador, beginning Jan. 23. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Air Canada is slashing all service to Labrador and cutting two more routes out of Newfoundland, the company said Tuesday.

Service between Gander and Halifax, Goose Bay and Halifax, and St. John's and Toronto ends Jan. 23.

A spokesperson told CBC News in a statement that the airline had experienced "stifled demand" due to COVID-19, ongoing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

As a result, the statement said, the company is "suspending until further notice all passenger flights to these destinations."

The airline, notoriously bleeding cash since last March, has contracted despite federal government funding to the tune of at least $492 million, according to a financial report released in September.

The spokesperson told CBC the airline's overall capacity is down 80 per cent from last year.

"Air Canada will continue to evaluate and adjust its route network as required in response to the trajectory of the pandemic and travel restrictions," the statement said.

The company also slashed all flights in Yellowknife and Fredericton on Tuesday.

The move follows a mass reduction in service to Newfoundland and Labrador last summer, when the airline dropped seven routes servicing the province.

Only 1 airline servicing Labrador

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Wally Andersen, reached by phone Tuesday evening, said the loss of the Halifax route leaves Labradorians with only one remaining carrier: PAL Airlines.

"It's concerning," Andersen said, describing a limited and complex range of travel options for those flying for health procedures, rotational work or family responsibilities. 

It'll cost more to get anywhere outside the province, he said, and will require multiple transfers. 

"Numbers are down everywhere, but there's a need for a carrier from Labrador to other parts of the country," he said.

Given Newfoundland and Labrador's restrictions and mandatory quarantine rules, Andersen said he doesn't think a federal bailout package could have necessarily prevented the loss of that route. 

Company unclear on refunds

Air Canada did not immediately respond to specific questions from CBC News about how the company will handle refunds for the cancelled flights in Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, a spokesperson told CBC North that any affected customers of its Yellowknife route "will be contacted and provided options, including refunds as applicable."

Andersen said he and other Labradorians are still sitting on Air Canada travel credit from flights they cancelled in March.

"The money I paid for those tickets, Air Canada's got it," he said.

"They're saying I can use it toward a future flight, but right now that's going to be pretty difficult to do, because they've got no flights in and out of Labrador."   

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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