Passenger flights to resume at Sydney airport as WestJet plans June return

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WestJet has announced it will resume some passenger flights in Atlantic Canada, including adaily route between Sydney and Halifax starting on June 28. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
WestJet has announced it will resume some passenger flights in Atlantic Canada, including adaily route between Sydney and Halifax starting on June 28. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

After a long winter without air service, flights will once again be lifting off the tarmac at the airport in Sydney, N.S.

WestJet announced in a press release Wednesday morning that it will be restoring a daily Sydney-to-Halifax route, starting June 28.

It's one of a number routes in Eastern Canada the Calgary-based airline said it would be restoring, a list that includes Toronto flights to and from Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, St. John's and Quebec City. A Halifax-St. John's route is also returning.

WestJet suspended the various routes in the fall as a result of plunging passenger numbers due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Mike MacKinnon, the chief executive officer of the Sydney airport, said additional air service may be restored in the coming months. He said all signs point toward the return in early June of Air Canada's flights between Sydney and Toronto.

"Right now, our airline partners are trying to determine the level of investment they can make for this summer," MacKinnon said.

"As we know, air travel demand has been suppressed in our region due to the 14-day quarantine requirement, so we are all looking for a plan from the province to address the restrictions, hopefully, in time to have a summer travel season."

There have been no commercial flights in Cape Breton since Air Canada shut down its service on Jan. 11.

Vaccine and quarantine

MacKinnon said news that Nova Scotia has an objective to vaccinate 80 per cent of its population by the end of June is very promising.

But he said a 14-day quarantine for those arriving from outside Atlantic Canada would make it difficult for airlines to make investments in air service. The continued loss of service would be devastating to summer tourism on the island, he said.

"Opening the Atlantic bubble is good news for sure, but it really does not move the needle very much as far as air travel in/out of our market. We really need to be open to all of Canada."

Other connections that WestJet is reinstating are:

  • St. John's-Halifax, six times weekly starting May 6.

  • St. John's-Toronto, once daily starting June 24.

  • Fredericton-Toronto, once daily starting June 26.

  • Quebec City-Toronto, once daily starting June 28.

  • Moncton-Toronto, once daily starting June 30.

  • Charlottetown-Toronto, 11 times weekly starting June 24.

MacKinnon said things remain relatively quiet in Sydney, as the only flights arriving are carrying cargo or transferring patients between hospitals, along with some search and rescue and training operations.

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