Charlottetown Airport to welcome new Halifax-P.E.I. flights this August
Newfoundland-based PAL Airlines makes Island part of pandemic recovery expansion plan
The Charlottetown Airport is celebrating news that Newfoundland-based PAL Airlines is adding a regular flight to and from Halifax starting in August.
The flight will operate three times a week beginning Aug. 2, the airport authority's CEO Doug Newson says.
"It's great that we're re-establishing a key route within Atlantic Canada that we lost last year," Newson said. "It's great to be able to have that connective opportunity within Atlantic Canada. PAL's even talked about the possibility of working with other national carriers, so you know there could be some news to come down the road on that we're hoping."
Newson said there was discussion of a direct flight from P.E.I. to Newfoundland, but no agreement has been reached.
Joseph Galimberti, PAL Airline's senior vice-president, public affairs, confirmed the flight plans in an email to CBC News late Wednesday.
"PAL Airlines is an established regional air carrier with an over 40-year track record of providing passenger air service in Eastern Canada and Quebec," he said in a statement.
"We understand giving people the ability to get into and out of the region reliably and efficiently is going to be essential to the post-pandemic recovery.… We are committed to working co-operatively with national carriers and other industry partners to build sustainable aviation services that meet the needs of the communities we serve."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel slowdown, the Charlottetown Airport is currently served only by Air Canada, operating flights to and from Montreal.
WestJet is scheduled to resume its Charlottetown-Toronto service on June 24, the Calgary airline announced in March.
'Important routes to connect our region'
The Charlottetown route is just one part of the expansion plan PAL Airlines is announcing this week.
Its destinations will eventually include Halifax and Sydney in Nova Scotia; Saint John, Fredericton and Bathurst in New Brunswick; Ottawa in Ontario; and four sites in Quebec: the Magdalen Islands, Gaspé, Baie-Comeau and Val-d'Or.
Some of the new flights will go into service May 31, the Fredericton Airport has said.
The Atlantic Canada Airports Association says it is pleased with the move. It represents 13 airports in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.
"This is an encouraging sign for our airports and the potential for air travel recovery for our region," said the association's executive director, Monette Pasher, in a written release.
Even though now is clearly not the time to travel, our industry needs to plan ahead and know what the key targets are.— Monette Pasher
She noted some of these inter-regional routes in Atlantic Canada were the first to be cut last spring amid the pandemic.
"When our population is vaccinated and the time is right to travel, these will be important routes to connect our region to the rest of Canada," the news release said. "We are certainly encouraged to see an established and reputable Atlantic Canadian company like PAL Airlines stepping up to serve our communities."
On another note, Pasher said the industry needs to know as soon as possible how public health officials plan to manage self-isolation requirements for fellow Canadians arriving in Atlantic Canada once the population is vaccinated.
"Even though now is clearly not the time to travel, our industry needs to plan ahead and know what the key targets are, so we can begin planning and be in a proper ready state as the safe re-opening of our economies continues," she said.
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With files from Tony Davis