Saint John airport business development director Jacques Fournier said Wednesday that Air Canada had suspended a flight to and from Montreal as of Friday. Starting Monday, April 6, the last two flights to and from Halifax will also be suspended. The suspensions are a response to the public health maintenance guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19 infections.
“People aren’t flying right now, so it’s a little bit difficult to justify that airlines put capacity in all the small airports,” said Fournier.
Fournier said the terminal would not close. He said layoffs are on the table, but “not in the near future”.
“It will certainly be necessary at some point to [layoffs] “, he said. “If it lasts six months, it is a definite possibility, but it all depends on the duration. “
He said that “nobody seems to have a very good understanding” of the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions, which adds to the uncertainty surrounding airport operations.
He said that if the travel restrictions remain long term, lasting more than a few months, “everyone at the airport” is in danger, from administrators to people who clean runways and electricians.
“It will not only affect one sector,” he said.
The airport previously had three daily flights to Toronto Pearson Airport, three to Montreal, one flight to downtown Toronto and one flight to Cuba. These have all been suspended previously.
Air Canada will review flights from Halifax in early May, Fournier said. In the past few days, he has seen these flights arriving with only one or two passengers, he said.
Theft reduction in Moncton
Bernard LeBlanc, CEO and President of Moncton Airport, said that Air Canada has also suspended two flights to Montreal and back. The airport now has two flights a day to Halifax and one to Toronto.
From what he sees in other regions, it appears that Air Canada is centralizing air services to capitals.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened here [as in Saint John]Air Canada has not confirmed any other suspensions.
LeBlanc said that Air Canada has not proposed a timetable for restoring flights. Most Air Canada flights suspended in other regions of the country are in effect until April 30.
Johanne Gallant, director general of Fredericton International Airport, said the airport still had two flights to Montreal, two to Halifax and one to Toronto. Several other flights have already been suspended, she said.
“It has a huge impact on the airport,” she said. “We are potentially losing more than 70% of our revenues … we have significantly reduced our operating budgets and are postponing investment projects. “
She said the construction project that started last year is still underway.
She said the airport is asking for support from the federal government.
“We are always asking the federal government to provide us with help to overcome this crisis,” she said.
“If we get one flight a day or two versus 15 a day, it’s the same overhead,” she said. “Because we have to stay safe. We have to maintain the tracks. We have security. So you know we have a high fixed cost, so we need support. “