MIAMI – In an attempt to increase profits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada (AC) is cutting some rural airports in the Newfoundland and Labrador province, Canadian news portal CBC News reported on January 13.

According to the report, the cuts “will have severe and long-lasting consequences on connecting the province — particularly people in rural communities — to the rest of Canada.”

The airline will be dropping its services in and out of Happy Valley-Goose Bay (YYR) and Gander (YQX) on January 23, as well as it will end its Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to St. John’s (YYT), in an effort to stay afloat.

The news did not come as a shock for YQX authorities, as it had already lost a service to Halifax (YHZ) after losing two back in June 2020.

Gander International Airport (YQX). Photo: Wiki Commons

Cuts Affect Essential Travel

Gander Airport Authority CEO Reg Wright told the CBS News that airport staff “have bracing for such news in the face of continued dwindling traffic, ‘hanging on by a fingernail to the side of the cliff,'” adding that, before COVID, “Air Canada accounted for 70 per cent of Gander’s passenger traffic and 25 per cent of the airport’s total revenue, totaling CAD$2.5 million.”

Wright also mentions that the airport can stay solvent, and says that he “hopes people understand the loss of the company entirely is about far more than future frivolity, like trips to Florida, that is currently unthinkable.”

The official also emphasized that the service drops also compromise essential travel in the area, as well as it makes it much harder to attract new residents.

“There’s one thing you need as an airport in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is you need daily service to mainland Canada. That is absolutely fundamental for an airport to have any prospect of success. So getting this, or something comparable, restored is a big priority for us,” Wright said.

YYR is also suffering with the reduction and the cuts will also affect essential travel to that area.

Airport general manager Goronwy Price tells CBC News that the airport “has been operating at about 40 per cent of total passenger volume,” greater than other area airports, but less flights means travel will be more difficult for essential travelers, including rotational workers and medical patients.

“The challenge is going to be, those essential travelers are going to have a tough time plugging in without that connection to the national and international circuit,” Price said.

Regional airlines PAL Airlines and Air Borealis still operate at Gander, while the first is the only one that will serve YYR. Both locations are trying, per the report, “to work together to find ways to combine tickets and move passengers more economically.”

Air Canada is leaving YQX after 75 years of service.

Featured image: Air Canada announced las year the first two new routes to be operated with the Airbus A220-300, the only non-stop service between Montreal and Seattle and Toronto and San Jose, California, which were set to begin in spring 2020. (CNW Group/Air Canada).