Airlines pull back on summer plans for P.E.I. in light of reopening dates

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Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, said he is now expecting fewer summer flights than he was anticipating earlier in the month. (CBC - image credit)
Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, said he is now expecting fewer summer flights than he was anticipating earlier in the month. (CBC - image credit)

The chief executive officer of the Charlottetown Airport Authority says Prince Edward Island's reopening plans are having a negative impact on the number of flights being scheduled for at least the early part of the summer.

Doug Newson told CBC News that talks have been taking place with Canada's two major carriers, Air Canada and West Jet.

Newson said uncertainty around when the Island will actually welcome visitors without them having to isolate and monitor for signs of COVID-19 for two weeks have led to a scaling-back in some tentative plans for the 2021 summer schedule.

"It is a significant reduction in capacity," he said.

Only a single Air Canada flight — to and from Montreal — has been scheduled at P.E.I.'s main airport for several months as the pandemic brought air travel to a near-halt.

"Air Canada is still planning to add a flight to Toronto later in June, so as of June 17 we will have two flights: one Toronto, one Montreal," Newson said.

The Charlottetown airport has been operating at a fraction of its normal pace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Charlottetown airport has been operating at a fraction of its normal pace during the COVID-19 pandemic.(Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"WestJet is still planning to return on June 25, but they had originally planned to do 11 flights a week … that will be reduced down to four flights per week.

"Air Canada had originally planned to double their flight numbers in July, so two Montreal flights as well as two Toronto flights, and that's been cut in half."

Newson said August schedules for the airlines are not finalized.

The Charlottetown airport CEO said some of the other provinces are opening up to the rest of Canada earlier than P.E.I. plans to, and that will likely impact summer vacation booking plans.

Newson agrees that safety is the top priority, but as COVID-19 vaccination rates go up he's hoping P.E.I. officials will decide to move up the reopening schedule as well.

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