Atlantic Canada’s Airports Call for Testing
Only so much air left in Bubble
For immediate release
(HALIFAX) Monday, November 9, 2020 – Air Canada announced third quarter results today and put on hold additional further station closures and route cuts to have further discussions with the federal government on support for the sector. Atlantic Canada is particularly vulnerable to deeper cuts due to the Atlantic Bubble, say the region’s airport operators.
“Our industry is calling on the Atlantic premiers to work with our airports to implement arrival-testing protocols for domestic passengers. Adding a testing protocol for everyone moving through our region by air would provide an added layer of peace of mind for our communities. This additional safety measure could allow for a reduction in quarantine times, while still making sure that our region stays Healthy.”
Atlantic Canada has been the target of service cancellations twice now by Canada’s major carriers. Just a month ago WestJet’s announced it was suspending 80 per cent of the airline’s Atlantic Canada capacity, and in June, Air Canada indefinitely suspended 11 routes in Atlantic Canada along with the closing of stations in Bathurst, NB and Wabush, NL.
“Given the cuts our region has already endured, we are quite relieved to hear the federal government is willing to discuss sector relief with air carriers this week,” says Derrick Stanford, president of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association and CEO of Saint John Airport. “COVID-19 and the Atlantic Provinces’ 14-day quarantine restrictions have smothered our industry. We need to work toward a science-based solution and implement testing at our airports before we lose even more connectivity.”
“Many people may not be thinking about air service right now, but it is essential to our rotational workers, our business community, tourism and our visitor economy, it will take years to rebuild what we’ve already lost” noted Monette Pasher, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association. “When the airline industry shrinks, it’s felt hardest in small, regional and rural Communities.”
Pasher points out that some Atlantic Canadian provinces are doing testing or reduced quarantine now for essential workers and rotational workers. As well, Alberta has a COVID-19 testing pilot program underway for arriving international travellers and many European countries and airlines have launched arrivals and departure COVID-19 testing programs.
“You know,” says Stanford, “we’ve had the Atlantic Bubble for 5 months, but bubbles are funny things, there’s only so much air left in ours – right now it’s suffocating our airports and our economies. We cannot wait any longer; we need to use science as a way forward and our provinces need to move forward on testing before it’s too late and our industry collapses.”
Monette Pasher, Executive Director, Atlantic Canada Airports Association
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