Air Canada will resume operations in Bathurst on June 1

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The Bathurst airport has been essentially empty for almost a year because Air Canada cut services during the pandemic. (CBC - image credit)
The Bathurst airport has been essentially empty for almost a year because Air Canada cut services during the pandemic. (CBC - image credit)

After Ottawa's offer of a $5.9 billion aid package for Air Canada, the Bathurst Regional Airport has announced the airline's services will resume in the coming months.

Air Canada was the only carrier at the airport, which was left it practically empty when the airline suspended all flights last June.

Serge Cormier, the Liberal MP for Acadie-Bathurst, said Air Canada will slowly work its way back to normal operations starting with a limited service.

"We need an airport in the area, there's no way possible to have any economic development if we don't have that infrastructure, so it's a very good announcement," said Cormier.

"It was very difficult for the Bathurst airport, very difficult for the region, but now we're hopefully going to see the end of the tunnel."

Cormier said people still need to be cautious and stressed this announcement does not mean it's time to travel for pleasure.

As part of Ottawa's deal with Air Canada, the airline promised to restore most regional services in the country. No other airports in New Brunswick have confirmed the carrier will return.

Lee Stever, the acting mayor of Bathurst, said he was surprised by the announcement, but sees it as a positive step for the region that's struggled without air service for almost a year.

Serge Cormier, the MP for Acadie-Bathurst, says the annoucement of Air Canada's return to Bathurst doesn't mean people should start travelling for pleasure.
Serge Cormier, the MP for Acadie-Bathurst, says the annoucement of Air Canada's return to Bathurst doesn't mean people should start travelling for pleasure. ()

"A lot of people don't realize how many people go through the airport here, as well as the amount of freight that flies out of Bathurst," said Stever.

"There are things like our fishing industry and so on and so forth that depend on the airport, and it's been very difficult over the past year."

Stever said the airport is also used by Miramichi and Campbellton residents and provides jobs in the area.

As part of the deal with the federal government, Air Canada agreed to refund Canadians for their cancelled flights after February 2020.

"We need all the jobs we can get," said Stever.

Air Canada employs about 15,000 in Canada, with a few of those in Bathurst.

Cormier said he estimates a full recovery from the pandemic, and that employees who were laid off due to COVID-19 will likely get their job back in the near future.

"This is a win-win situation for everybody," he said.

Air Canada has said it wants to issue refunds for cancelled flights as soon as possible, and it began accepting requests for refunds Tuesday.

The Bathurst Regional Airport just secured service through PAL Airlines last week, to begin in August.

An official from the airport was not available for an interview Tuesday.