Air Canada

Air Canada slashes domestic schedule to 750 weekly flights

An Air Canada Boeing 777 departs Vancouver International Airport in August 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Eleven cities in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada will lose scheduled Air Canada service as a result of the airline’s latest COVID-19 schedule. The airline has again cut in half the number of planned departures in April, leaving it with just over 100 departures per day on a national level.

Bagotville and Sept-Iles Quebec, Wabush, Goose Bay, Deer Lake and Gander Newfoundland, Moncton and Saint John New Brunswick, and Windsor, London and Sault Ste. Marie Ontario will disappear from the Air Canada route map as a result of drastic cuts to the schedule published this week.

It is a further indication of how far air travel has collapsed as Canadians heed government warnings to cancel all but essential travel. Just one week ago, Air Canada planned 1500 weekly flights through April.

MAP BELOW: Air Canada and Westjet planned routes through the month of April.

In all, Air Canada plans 734 domestic departures from 29 cities in its latest April schedule.

Air Canada’s largest hub continues to be Toronto, with 291 planned domestic departures. To that, it will add a handful of U.S. and overseas departures to maintain an “air bridge” between Canada and the rest of the world. Until last month, Toronto had been the second-busiest international hub in North America due to Air Canada’s strategy of connecting Europe and the United States through its main transit point.

Air Canada’s other hubs in Montreal and Vancouver will see drastically reduced service both domestically and internationally, with each handling fewer than 100 flights a week for the month of April.

The airline will continue to serve all 10 Canadian provinces, though Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have been reduced to one flight a day or less.

Even Winnipeg an Air Canada crew base and city with 750,000 people, will only see an average of two daily Air Canada departures in the current schedule.

Departure CityAC weekly departuresWS weekly departuresTotal
Weekly domestic departures in May from select Canadian airports (source: airline schedules).

So far, Westjet has stuck with its reduced domestic schedule, which is roughly double Air Canada’s national frequencies, though airline officials across the board have signalled any schedule is at best a moving target.

Both are waiting to see how emergency federal payroll subsidies will affect their airlines.

More than 45,000 people in Canadian aviation have lost their jobs in the past 10 days, though the actual figure is likely much higher.

The head of Pearson International told federal officials that passenger numbers at her facility have dropped from 130,000 per day to about 5,000 – a 93% decrease. Similar collapses have been reported at airports across the country.

In response, airports have resorted to drastic measures to save money. Vancouver has cancelled all construction projects and closed parts of the airport, Grande Prairie has closed its terminal for all but five hours a day, and the head of Gander International in Newfoundland told the CBC he’s looking into buying locks for the terminal building doors for the first time in the facility’s long and storied history.