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An Air Canada plane at the Saint John Airport. Image: Submitted/Saint John Airport

UPDATED: Saint John to lose 3 of 5 daily Air Canada routes

By Brad Perry Aug 10, 2023 | 4:01 PM

The Saint John Airport will be hit hard by Air Canada cuts starting in September.

Three of five daily routes to Toronto and Montreal are being slashed by the airline.

Sandy Ross, CEO of the Saint John Airport, said they were surprised by the cuts.

“We’d been hoping that Air Canada would maintain more flights in Saint John through the winter months,” Ross said in an interview.

“It represents a tremendous inconvenience I think to people trying to travel out of Saint John, so we’re a little put out with Air Canada because of that.”

Saint John will lose two of its three daily Air Canada routes to Toronto and one of its two routes to Montreal.

Currently, travellers can leave for Toronto at 11:40 a.m., 5:35 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with arrivals at 10:49 a.m., 4:49 p.m. and 6:49 p.m.

After the changes take effect, there will be one arrival at 11:58 a.m. and one departure at 12:45 p.m.

When it comes to the Montreal route, the 6:15 a.m. departure and 10:40 p.m. arrival are being eliminated. That will leave one arrival at 3:39 p.m. and one departure at 4:25 p.m.

Ross said that means travellers will no longer be able to fly to Toronto or Montreal and back on the same day.

In addition, he said it will be challenging for those trying to make a connection in Toronto and get into Saint John the same day.

“A lot of people are going to be forced to overnight in Toronto or Montreal when they wouldn’t have planned for that,” said Ross.

The airport CEO said the cancellations are not due to a lack of demand, noting the passenger load for Air Canada flights out of Saint John is “very high.”

Instead, he has been told by the airline that they are short hundreds of regional pilots, which has forced them to cancel some routes.

“Typically, Saint John has seen smaller aircraft coming in, so it’s been those routes that have been cancelled,” said Ross.

Fredericton has also been told that it will lose one Air Canada route, while Moncton will not be impacted by schedule changes.

Ross said their call for more service is not about pitting the province’s airports against one another.

“What we’re trying to do is to make the case that the folks of Saint John deserve the same sort of travel opportunities as people in Fredericton and Moncton,” he said.

“We’re not trying to take anything away from those markets, we’re trying to add something to Saint John.”

Ross said it is unclear at this point how long the reduced Air Canada schedule will be in effect.

In the meantime, he is urging residents impacted to email the airport and share their stories.

“Our concern is that if there were no response from the community, if people didn’t react, then this could become a more regular feature of Air Canada’s service into Saint John,” said Ross.

“You don’t want to just lie down for these things, you want to indicate that it’s not a popular thing and people are not happy with it.”


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