Air Canada suggests loss of service if Regina air traffic control tower is closed

Some ominous news from Air Canada when it comes to air travel into and out of Regina if the airport loses its air traffic control tower.

Testifying before a House of Commons Transportation Committee, David Rheault, who is the director of government and community relations for Air Canada, said a closure would “obviously” affect the airline’s decision about whether to send flights to the airport.

Rheault made the statement after being asked what a closure would mean by Regina-Wascana MP Michael Kram, who is a member of the committee.

Following the hearings, Kram once again said losing the tower would be devastating for Regina as not only would it be tougher for people to travel coming out of the pandemic, but Regina would lose out on things like major sporting events, international conferences and tradeshows with the ability to attract business and high-skilled workers being diminished.

In an interview with 620 CKRM, Kram says while airlines can still fly to an airport without a tower, it’s less than ideal.

“I don’t think that WestJet or Air Canada would pull out completely, but certainly the number of flights that they would be offering to Regina would be limited.”

Kram adds at the end of the day, this is something that falls directly on the federal Liberals.  He says nearly every other developed country in the world has provided support to preserve its air infrastructure through the pandemic, but the Liberal government has done next to nothing. As with so many aspects of the pandemic, they are blundering along without a plan, hoping that the problem will magically fix itself.

WestJet says they wouldn’t decrease operations to Regina. Spokesperson Andy Gibbons was also in the testimony, and says this isn’t an ideal situation for any airline, including theirs.

“Without better understanding of what the operational realities will be for our company, it’s really difficult to say,” Gibbons said. “That’s why we’re pushing so hard for a safe re-start plan, and to understand how the government looks at vaccines and looks at testing.”

Gibbons says WestJet watching the vaccine rollout plan across the country to see what impact it has on operations.

{With files from Ryan McNally}

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