Saskatoon

Regina Airport CEO hopes Air Canada will restore indefinite Sask. flight cuts post-pandemic

Air Canada is suspending some flight routes out of Regina and Saskatoon due to COVID-19, but the CEO of Regina Airport is hopeful some of them will be restored once demand resumes.

James Bogusz says restoration of flights will only come with increased demand

Flights to and from Saskatoon and Regina are among 30 domestic routes that will be suspended. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Air Canada is suspending some flight routes out of Regina and Saskatoon due to  COVID-19, but the CEO of Regina Airport is hopeful some of them will be restored once demand resumes.

The Saskatchewan flights are among a list of 30 suspended routes released by the airline on Tuesday due to "weak demand for both business and leisure travel due to COVID-19."  

Flights from Regina to Winnipeg, Regina to Saskatoon, Regina to Ottawa and Saskatoon to Ottawa have been halted indefinitely.

The flight to Winnipeg was a daily service, while the Ottawa flight formerly operated during the summer season.

Regina Airport CEO James Bogusz says those flights were not operating this year anyway due to COVID-19, adding passenger volume is only about five per cent of what it was pre-COVID. 

"Frankly, with the load factors that we're seeing and the minimal amount of passenger volumes I'm really not surprised that they had to make those that announcements," Bogusz said. 

Both Air Canada and WestJet have reduced air service into most cities across Canada due to the pandemic. Bogusz says the decreased frequency of flights to major centres like Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto have had the biggest impact. 

He says there were about 20 daily departures from Regina before the pandemic. That number hit a low in April and May, anywhere from zero commercial flights to a maximum of three. Going into July, he says, that number is only up to about four or six per day. 

Bogusz says domestic travellers are following regulations not to travel unnecessarily. He says many also want to avoid the 14-day quarantine they may face if they went to another province.

Bogusz says he is hopeful that at least some flights will be reinstated when the demand for air travel comes back up. 

"I'm sure some of these routes, whether it be the Ottawa route or increased frequency into a major city like Vancouver or Toronto, these will increase but it only will increase if there's passenger demand to do so," he said. "They'll only be passenger demand once the guidelines from the pandemic are relaxed."

He urges anyone travelling out of Regina to check the airport website and the airline directly to make sure their flight is still operating.

The Saskatchewan flights routes were the only ones to be cancelled in Western Canada, with the majority of other service cut backs taking place in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario. 

Air Canada said other changes to its network and schedule, along with further service suspensions, are being considered. 

The airline said it has reported a net loss of $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19.

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