PEI

Air Canada suspends service between Halifax and Charlottetown indefinitely

Air Canada has suspended a popular flight route between Charlottetown and Halifax indefinitely. It is one of 30 domestic regional routes that have been suspended across the country.

One of 14 routes in Atlantic Canada which has been suspended indefinitely

The suspended route made up 10 per cent of passenger traffic in 2019 for Charlottetown airport. (Al McCormick/CBC)

Air Canada has suspended a popular flight route between Charlottetown and Halifax indefinitely. It is one of 30 domestic regional routes that have been suspended across the country, and one of 14 in Atlantic Canada.

Air Canada said the changes are due lower demand for service because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions that are in place.

The route between Halifax and Charlottetown has been suspended since early April due to the pandemic but had been set to return to service in early September.

The suspension is effective immediately and applies to travel in both directions. 

"It's a big loss," said Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority.

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, said the suspended service between Halifax and Charlottetown is a big loss. (CBC)

The route represents 10 per cent of passenger traffic for the airport. In 2019, 35,000 people flew that route, and many used the flight as a connection to Ottawa or Toronto. 

Before the pandemic, the route saw six to eight flights per day in and out of Charlottetown. 

It's another blow for the airport, which was already expecting a 75-80 per cent decrease in passenger traffic for 2020. 

"I think it just shows how hard hit this sector is being hit due to the pandemic," said Newson. 

"The travel restrictions that we have in place are just too challenging for the airlines right now to continue to operate these flights. And there's a lot of uncertainty as to when things will get better." 

'No choice' but to suspend routes

In a statement to CBC, Air Canada said it was out of options. The company has already laid off more than 50 per cent of its staff due to the pandemic and expects it will take at least three years to get back to pre-pandemic levels of service, the statement said.  

"The company is currently losing nearly $20 million per day," the statement said.

"Faced with this unsustainable situation, Air Canada has no choice but to take decisive action to reduce its cost structure and slow the depletion of its cash reserves."

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