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There is a new airline in town and the welcome mat is already on the tarmac.
Newfoundland-based PAL Airlines will be offering flights out of the JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport as of May 31.
“Having more flying options from our community is welcome news and we are excited to be part of the PAL plan to offer more flying options to Atlantic Canadians,” said Mike MacKinnon, CEO of the Sydney airport.
MacKinnon said PAL has been working on their Atlantic region plan for some time and are adding flights all over Atlantic Canada.
In Sydney, the regional air carrier will be offering three flights to Halifax a week with a Dash 8-100 aircraft that seats 37. MacKinnon said this is the same aircraft Air Canada used for years on that route. He said PAL Airlines has built an excellent reputation for reliability and efficiency through their 40 years serving Eastern Canada and Quebec.
EXPANDING ACROSS ATLANTIC PROVINCES
A source with PAL Airlines told the Cape Breton Post they will also be adding air service to Charlottetown, as well as Saint John, Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B. The air carrier currently offers flights to Moncton, as well as Montreal and other cities in Quebec. Additional cities in Quebec are also slated to be added to the carrier’s flight service.
With the Atlantic bubble opening on April 19, MacKinnon said there is potential for more leisure travel within the Atlantic provinces soon. When the population target is vaccinated and the time is right to travel, these flights will help connect Cape Breton to the rest of Canada as well, he added.
“Certainly we are encouraged to see an established and reputable Atlantic Canada company like PAL Airlines stepping up to serve our community and we will be working closely with PAL Airlines and all our other industry partners going forward to re-build sustainable aviation services in and out of Sydney.”
FROM NO AIR CARRIERS TO THREE
There have been no flights operating out of the JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport since WestJet temporarily suspended service in November 2020 and Air Canada in January 2021. In March, WestJet announced they would be resuming flights in June and the Cape Breton Post learned Air Canada is currently taking bookings for flights scheduled to resume at the same time.
MacKinnon described all the recent air service announcements as 'fantastic news.'
“Competitive fares are expected,” he said. “As always, it is best to book as early as you can, obviously from YQY.”
MacKinnon hopes for an exciting summer, commenting everyone is planning as best possible for a safe restart.
Meanwhile, MacKinnon said there is some cautious optimism in all of this planning that the Nova Scotia government will set a target date and plan for a safe reopening to all of Canada this summer.
However, he questions under what scenario public health officials will lift the mandatory self-isolation requirements for Canadians arriving into Nova Scotia. They are also still looking for the promised government financial support for airports and airlines which is crucial and has taken far too long.
“The industry still has a long, hard road ahead to recover from the havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit us with,” he said. “We are working with all our air carriers, everyone is planning ahead and we all need to understand what the targets are so we can be in a proper ready state for safe re-opening, again hopefully this summer, which would be great news for our tourism sector as well.”
According to the Pal Airlines website, the airline made its start in St. John’s, N.L., 45 years ago. Originally a renowned Atlantic Canadian flight school, they have grown into one of the largest independent airlines operating in Eastern Canada providing scheduled flights, air charter and air cargo services.
PAL Airlines could not be reached for comment by deadline.
Sharon-Montgomery-Dupe is a health and breaking news reporter at the Cape Breton Post.