PEI

Air Canada cancellations have long-term implications, says Atlantic business leader

Atlantic Canada could be feeling an extended impact from Air Canada's decision to suspend some key flights in the region, says the CEO of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce.

No Charlottetown-Halifax flights had been operating since April COVID-19 slowdown

With demand down in the pandemic, Air Canada has suspended 30 routes indefinitely. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Atlantic Canada could be feeling an extended impact from Air Canada's decision to suspend some key flights in the region, says the CEO of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce.

Earlier this week, the airline announced it was "indefinitely suspending" 30 flight routes, including trips from Charlottetown to Halifax and vice versa. In 2019, 35,000 people flew on that route, but planes have not flown the route since early April, when restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

Air Canada said decreased demand due to the pandemic's lingering impact does not support bringing the four daily round trips between Charlottetown and Halifax back in September, as the airline had originally planned.

Air connections are important for businesses in particular, says Sheri Somerville, CEO of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce — "not just economic recovery out of COVID, but also our recovery and growth for the future of Atlantic Canada."

The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce is hoping to work with government to find ways to help the economy in the region.

In a news release announcing the changes, Canada's biggest airline said: "Air Canada expects the industry's recovery will take a minimum of three years. As a consequence, other changes to its network and schedule, as well as further service suspensions, will be considered over the coming weeks as the airline takes steps to decisively reduce its overall cost structure and cash burn rate."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Lauren Toffan

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