More travellers arriving at Charlottetown Airport as border restrictions ease

·3 min read
Anna, left, and Julia Rhymes haven't seen their family in the Maritimes since before the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
Anna, left, and Julia Rhymes haven't seen their family in the Maritimes since before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

There are a few more flights on the arrivals and departures board at the Charlottetown Airport this summer.

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, said traffic at the airport has been picking up since July 18 — when P.E.I. eased its COVID-19 border restrictions to travellers from across Canada.

"After 16, 17 months of some very challenging times and quiet times around the airport, we are certainly pleased to see things starting to come back quite quickly," Newson said.

Some new flights have also been added this week. WestJet sent its first direct flight from Calgary to Charlottetown Thursday night. Newfoundland-based PAL Airlines landed its first flight on the Island Friday morning, and the first Flair Airlines flight is due Monday. Flair is a discount airline, which will have flights coming to P.E.I. from Toronto every Monday and Friday morning, Newson said.

According to Newson, there are now about four or five flights coming into Charlottetown every day. That's still less than pre-pandemic numbers but an improvement from last summer when there were only one or two flights arriving a day, Newson said.

'It's great to finally reunite'

Sisters Anna and Julia Rhymes flew in from Montreal on Friday morning to meet family vacationing in P.E.I.

"We haven't seen them the whole pandemic so it's great to finally reunite," said Julia.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Anna said it's been about four or five years since she and her sister have visited P.E.I. She said it feels "surreal" to be able to travel by air again as pandemic restrictions ease.

Newson said it's great to see families reunite as they enter the airport.

"There was one lady who hadn't seen her new grandchild that was 18 months old yet. I'm looking at a guy over here holding a sign that says 471 days is too long."

According to Newson, the Canadian airline industry as a whole is starting to recover, though it has been slower than the United States to rebound from decreased air traffic throughout the pandemic.

"I think the next step is really the hope that we'll start to see more U.S. and international travel as restrictions get eased or people are allowed to come and go without quarantine," he said.

Border testing

Travellers entering the Charlottetown Airport must undergo a rapid COVID-19 test, as per provincial travel guidelines.

Jennifer Flemming was one of those travellers. She arrived from Iowa Friday morning — granted entry on compassionate grounds — and said COVID-19 testing rules in Canada have been confusing, as she did not have to do a rapid test at the Montreal airport.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

"Everybody has different rules," Fleming said.

Newson said he expects business travel to return to the Island come fall, if COVID-19 restrictions allow it.

"Now the work will really start on building for next year," he said. "We really believe that 2022 is going to be a very strong year for tourism on P.E.I."

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