Flair Airlines suspending service out of Regina in mid-June, but business is picking up at airport

·2 min read
Flair Airlines is suspending service in Regina.  (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)
Flair Airlines is suspending service in Regina. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)

A low-cost airline has announced it is suspending its service in Regina, but another airline is ready to fill the void as post-pandemic business at the airport picks up.

As of June 11, Flair will no longer offer two flights every week between Regina and Toronto.

"We're obviously disappointed to hear this," said James Bogusz, the president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority.

"It's unfortunate, but we're hoping to see them again. They have indicated that they're hoping to return to a market in the future."

Bogusz says that according to Flair there had been significant issue with aircraft being delayed as well as congestion at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

"With fewer aircraft this summer than we anticipated we were forced to make some painful capacity decisions. We are hopeful to return to YQR in the near future," said Eric Tanner, the director of network planning and scheduling with Flair Airlines.

Despite the news, Bogusz says, the airport is doing well as business continues to improve.

"Things are really picking back up at the airport. In fact, we're seeing over 70 per cent of pre-pandemic traveller volumes almost on a daily basis now," he told CBC News on Monday.

However, that has not come without its challenges.

A vaccination mandate that remains in place for domestic travellers in Canada is a factor that is limiting the airport's ability to get back to pre-pandemic business levels, Bogusz says, noting that the restriction, which is set to remain in place until at least June 30, means about a fifth of the airport's potential passengers remain unable to board an airplane.

"When I consider what January looked like here, which was about 30 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in a very short time, we're back upwards of 65 [per cent] 70 [per cent], depending on the dates. But we are going to peak fairly quickly because, again, we have a pretty big segment of the population who currently cannot get on a plane," he said.

The gap left by Flair will be filled quickly.

Swoop Airlines will begin offering twice weekly flights between Regina and Toronto starting on June 16, a move Bogusz says was announced months ago.

Changes are common in the industry, Bogusz says, and it isn't necessarily a shock to see an organization suspend service.

He says the industry monitors a variety of factors in making decisions, including how passengers are responding as provinces and other countries modify COVID-19 restrictions.

"I've been working in airports over 20 years," Bogusz  said, "and I can tell you the one thing that's never certain is an airline schedule."

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