Nova Scotia

Air Canada flights cancelled between Sydney, Halifax

A Sydney airport official says the air industry's future looks bleak after Air Canada cancelled flights between Halifax and Sydney for the month of November. The move follows a recent announcement by WestJet that it was suspending flights out of Sydney starting next week.

'I guess it's a reflection of the impact of the pandemic and what it's been doing to our industry'

Sydney airport CEO Mike MacKinnon says the outlook for air travel is bleak after Air Canada cancelled flights between Halifax and Sydney for the month of November. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A Sydney airport official says the air industry's future looks bleak after Air Canada cancelled flights between Halifax and Sydney for the month of November.

The move follows a recent announcement by WestJet that it was suspending flights out of Sydney starting next week.

Mike MacKinnon, CEO of Sydney Airport, said no one can recall a similar interruption of flights between Sydney and Halifax since they started in 1942.

"It's a longstanding route that's been here since many, many years, so it's very unfortunate, but I guess it's a reflection of the impact of the pandemic and what it's been doing to our industry," he said.

The pandemic just keeps hitting the industry and it doesn't seem to be letting up, MacKinnon said.

"We just had to do more layoffs here at Sydney airport in the last week and we can only hang on so long," he said.

"We can hang on till next summer, for sure, but it's putting us deeper and deeper in the hole each and every month we go through this."

Loss leaves only 5 flights a week

MacKinnon said three maintenance workers were laid off this week, leaving a crew of eight employees at the airport, which is about half the usual complement of staff.

He said the loss of the Halifax route leaves Sydney airport with only Air Canada flights to and from Toronto five days a week.

Air Canada has not said whether those flights are also in jeopardy, MacKinnon said, but the airlines have changed their scheduling as a result of the pandemic.

He said they used to provide seasonal schedules to give passengers an idea of flight availability months in advance.

Since this summer, though, the airlines have been examining advance bookings a month ahead and adjusting schedules based on projected traffic.

'Outlook not good'

MacKinnon said he expects he will find out about the December schedule in a couple of weeks, but it's not looking hopeful.

"I'd be lying to say the outlook is good at all," he said.

"You're going into the quietest time of the year for air travel and we could see even further cuts.

"We're going into those months when normal passenger traffic does decline, especially November, January, February. December usually, in normal times, has significant traffic during the holiday season and the lead-up to the holiday season. Certain days you may have better loads than others, but certainly the demand is quite depressed."

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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