Nova Scotia

Sydney airport CEO encouraged by entry of new regional airline

Commercial flights are set to resume at Atlantic airports at the end of June and the addition of a regional carrier from Newfoundland and Labrador is adding options at some Maritime cities.

Mike MacKinnon says new flights from PAL Airlines will add jobs, boost confidence among travellers

The CEO of the airport in Sydney, N.S., is looking forward to the return of air travel at the end of June, especially with the addition of new flights from regional carrier PAL Airlines. (Submitted by PAL Airlines)

The CEO of the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport is looking forward to the resumption of air travel in the Atlantic region, and he's especially excited about the new arrival of an airline from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mike MacKinnon said having PAL Airlines come into the Maritimes will create jobs and add options for travellers.

"Pre-pandemic, the airport itself had about 140 direct jobs at the airport ... with the different entities that work here and we're below 30 now, so anything is going to be an improvement over where we've been for the last year to 14, 15 months," he said.

Commercial flights have been shut down at Atlantic airports since January. They were set to restart at the end of May, but the pandemic's third wave put that on hold.

PAL Airlines has announced it will be flying out of Halifax, Charlottetown and Fredericton starting at the end of June and its inaugural flight out of Sydney, N.S., is on June 28.

WestJet plans to restart Sydney-to-Halifax flights on June 28, while Air Canada has said it is resuming flights from Sydney to Toronto and Montreal on June 26 and from Sydney to Halifax on July 1.

Janine Browne, director of business development and sales with PAL Airlines, says the company identified gaps in the regional marketplace and has the equipment and staff to fill them. (Submitted by PAL Airlines)

MacKinnon said adding flight choices in Sydney will boost confidence among travellers.

"It's the road to recovery," he said. "It's encouraging to see that we've got a new carrier who are going to be operating interregional routes around Atlantic Canada and that's great for our airport."

Janine Browne, director of business development and sales with PAL Airlines, said the company identified gaps in the regional marketplace and already has the equipment and staff to fill them.

"It's a huge expansion," she said.

"Our team is very excited that, during this challenging time, that we are able to do this."

The airline is starting from Sydney with a 37-seat Dash 8 that can also carry cargo.

'People are really, really eager to travel,' says PAL spokesperson

Browne said the company is prepared to operate in a new environment, given differing health restrictions in each province.

"We're obviously keeping a close eye on government restrictions and respecting that, but we think it's going to be the right time and we think that people are really, really eager to travel," she said.

"People are looking to get on that plane. People are looking to get in the air and fly."

PAL announced its plans to fly out of Sydney on Tuesday morning and by midday, had already taken some bookings, Browne said.

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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 17 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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