PEI

More flights suspended at Charlottetown airport because of COVID-19

Air Canada announced more flights have been suspended in and out of the Charlottetown airport because of low demand caused by global travel restrictions.

Air Canada will be suspending flights between Charlottetown and Halifax starting Monday

An Air Canada flight prepares for takeoff at the Charlottetown airport in January 2020. (John Robertson/CBC)

More suspensions to flights travelling to and from Prince Edward Island were announced Friday as the airline industry across Canada deals with the effects of COVID-19.

Air Canada announced the service between Charlottetown and Halifax will be suspended from April 6 until June 1, 2020.

Flight service between Toronto and Charlottetown has been suspended until June 1 as well.

A spokesperson with Air Canada told CBC News the flights have been reduced because of "low demand."

Starting on Monday, Air Canada will only operate one daily flight between Charlottetown and Montreal.

WestJet continues to operate a direct flight between Charlottetown and Toronto three days a week.

Passenger travel down 90 per cent

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, said the airport is very quiet, with passenger travel down by about 90 per cent.

"A little over a month ago we were looking at terminal expansions and challenges this summer in terms of how we were going to get people through the airport … we were looking at a banner year for the Charlottetown Airport Authority and the tourism industry," he said.

"It feels like overnight that has done a 180. It's certainly stressful times, but we're not alone in this obviously." 

The Charlottetown Airport Authority says travellers should check airline websites for any further schedule changes. (John Robertson/CBC)

He said the pandemic will take a financial toll on the airport, ranging in the millions of dollars. Newson said last April there was an average of up to 750 passengers coming through the terminal a day.

"Over the past week, we've had about 75," he said.

The federal government has announced help so far by waiving rent for airports that pay Transport Canada.

But Newson said those payments are based on revenue and may mean only about $5,000 in savings for the Charlottetown airport.

The airport plans to defer capital projects and will look at other ways to cut costs.

Newson said it is hard to predict the future in these unprecedented times but understands people, businesses and industries are impacted all over.

He said some of the smaller airports have already seen cancellations of all flights. If the pandemic continues for too long, Newson said, that could happen in Charlottetown as well.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.

  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Wayne Thibodeau

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