Nova Scotia

Air Canada extends flight cuts between Sydney, Halifax to January

Travellers won't be able to fly between Sydney and Halifax this holiday season as Air Canada has extended its route cuts due to the pandemic.

Airport president disappointed air travel cut between 2 cities within Atlantic bubble

The J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport has been told by Air Canada that their flight from Sydney, N.S., to Halifax, which was suspended from Nov. 2-30, will now be cut until Jan. 10, 2021. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Travellers won't be able to fly between Sydney, N.S., and Halifax this holiday season as Air Canada has extended its route cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport has been told by Air Canada that their regional flight from Sydney to Halifax, which was suspended from Nov. 2-30, will now be cut until Jan. 10, 2021.

The Sydney Airport Authority is "extremely disappointed" that further cuts are being made to air service at a time when the federal government and airlines should be meeting to discuss industry relief, airport CEO Mike MacKinnon said in a news release.

"I don't know what is taking our country so long to react to this industry crisis—around the world airlines and airports have been supported by governments because they understand the crucial role aviation plays in their economies," MacKinnon said.

"Canada is a sprawling nation, air service is absolutely essential and if any country should understand the importance of their aviation industry, Canada should."

MacKinnon said it's especially unfortunate to have fewer travel options between the two largest cities in Nova Scotia over the holiday season when both are in the Atlantic bubble.

He also pointed to comments from Transport Minister Marc Garneau on Sunday, who said talks between the airlines and government would begin this week. Garneau said they were ready to establish a process of financial assistance, which could include loans and potentially other support.

But, Garneau said that federal support will be contingent on carriers providing refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled.

The minister also said the federal government will ensure Canadians and regional communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada. 

However, it's unclear whether that would include pushing Air Canada and others to resume dozens of routes that are currently suspended, like Sydney-Halifax.

A lone passenger walks past the Air Canada check-in counter at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

WestJet also suspended flights out of Sydney last month, as well as Moncton, N.B., Fredericton, Charlottetown and Quebec City.

The Sydney airport now only has Air Canada flights to and from Toronto five days a week.

MacKinnon also called on the province to look at ways to safely allow air travel from outside the Atlantic region through rapid testing, which could reduce quarantine measures and still keep the public safe.

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