Cape Breton MPs call for service to be restored at Sydney airport

·2 min read

Cape Breton MPs are supporting a petition to the House of Commons to restore air travel to Sydney's J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport.

Earlier this month, Air Canada announced air service would be suspended in Sydney starting Jan. 11. The Air Canada flight from Toronto to Sydney is currently the only flight operating at the airport.

In a year-end interview with CBC Radio's Information Morning with Steve Sutherland, MP Jaime Battiste said he along with fellow MP Mike Kelloway and the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce started the petition on Dec. 21.

"I hope to be able to read it in the House in January and just talk about the importance of the airport to this riding," said Battiste.

In the first two days, the petition had already gathered close to 3,000 signatures from people in 12 of the 13 provinces and territories.

Gary Mansfield/CBC
Gary Mansfield/CBC

Battiste said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has addressed the need to help the aviation sector.

"We brought it up to him and they're going to address it, but they're going to do it in a way that makes sure that it's not just the airlines, but the families that are also receiving something," said Battiste.

Cape Breton University and its student union both publicly called upon the federal government to step in and offer help.

Student union president Amrinder Singh said the suspension of air travel to Sydney adds many difficulties for the many international students who attend the university.

"Our students rely heavily on airport services. It gives the students a sense of security, knowing the airport is just a few kilometres away from their home or school," said Singh.

Submitted by Amrinder Singh
Submitted by Amrinder Singh

Singh said he has seen many instances where students had to quickly travel to their home countries for personal emergencies. In those situations, it's less of a burden for students to fly from Sydney to Toronto, and Toronto to their home county.

He said the lack of air service may hinder new international students from choosing CBU if they see the closest airport is hours away, and they would have to pay extra money to take a bus or shuttle to Cape Breton once their flight lands.

"Students having easy access to the airport certainly plays a very important role in making the decision easy for international students to come to CBU," said Singh.

The petition will remain open for signatures until Jan. 20.