News of Air Canada grounding their Penticton flights flew quickly to the ears of local representatives who aired their concerns in Parliament’s question period on Dec. 8.
Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola MP Dan Albas called on the government to act, after noting that residents of the South Okanagan were “shocked” by Air Canada grounding flights to and from the regional airport.
“Mr. Speaker, will this Prime Minister do something now, or is he telling the residents of the area to go fly a kite? Because they certainly won’t be flying.”
Air Canada suspended their service to the Penticton Regional Airport, with the only flights as of Jan. 12 offered by WestJet to Calgary.
“In response to the very low demand arising from COVID-19 and ongoing travel restrictions, Air Canada is reducing its services. Beginning Jan. 11 we are suspending until further notice all passenger operations to Penticton,” reads a statement from the airline.
The Prime Minister responded by noting the government’s previous support for sectors hard hit by the pandemic, including money to airline workers, as well as how the government plans to handle any further potential support.
“We have expressed over the past months our concern over the suspension of regional routes and we will continue to work with airlines to ensure support and protection of regional routes,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “But as I said, no sector-specific supports will go to the airlines until they return refunds to Canadians and until they show us a plan for restoring regional routes.”
During the pandemic, Air Canada has reportedly carried less than eight per cent of the airline’s normal passenger volume. The airline suspended service to Penticton previously from March to August.
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