Air Canada announced Wednesday it would stop service to 22 cities domestically as it cuts capacity to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
They range from cities as large as Kingston, Ontario, population 137,000, to tiny Sandspit, home to 296 people on Haida Gwaii in British Columbia.
“Very dissatisfied and disappointed,” said Kamloops mayor Ken Christian in an e-mail Wednesday evening. His city of more than 90,000 people is facing the loss of service for at least a month. The nearest airport is in Kelowna, more than two hours away.
Air Canada published a full list of suspended flights on its website.
While the reaction in Kamloops was sharp, in Sandspit, the local community essentially asked for the end of air service. “In collaboration with All Island leaders and health authorities, the Council of the Haida Nation discourages all non-resident travel to our Islands for the time being,” the Haida Nation said in a release.
“Given our culture, remote geography and limited healthcare resources, we have made this critical decision to protect Island citizens, and especially our cherished Elders, language speakers and knowledge holders.”
British Columbia faces the most loss of service, with six communities on the list: Comox, Cranbrook, Penticton, and Smithers, in addition to Kamloops and Sandspit.
Meanwhile, five communities in Quebec will lose service. The remote Magdalen Islands will be cut off from the rest of the country, while 70,000 people living in Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or face a three-hour drive to Timmins, Ontario – the nearest airport with Air Canada service.
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Three cities in Ontario and two in Alberta also lose service for the month.
Air Canada said it will continue flights to 40 cities in all 10 provinces, though that could change as the COVID pandemic worsens and government orders change. It is also suspending most international service, maintaining a bare-bones “air bridge” to key destinations in the United States and overseas.
Smaller Westjet has also announced the suspension of its international service and a 50% cut to domestic flights, though it has not yet outlined the full impact.
The airline said it would cancel 232 flights Wednesday, the majority on domestic routes.