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Some bumps expected as travel industry bounces back: airport spokesperson

Earlier this week, it was announced that Sunwing Airlines would be cancelling flights from Halifax to Orlando, Fla., and to Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba

A spokesperson for Halifax Stanfield International Airports says there’s bound to be some bumps along the way as the airline industry bounces back from a significant drop in traffic during COVID-19 restrictions.

Tiffany Chase’s comments come after it was announced earlier this week that Sunwing Airlines would be cancelling its plan to offer non-stop flights from Halifax to Orlando, Fla., and to Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba.

In addition, twice-weekly flights to Varadero, Cuba will be reduced to once a week.

The airline will still have routes between Halifax and eight other sunny destinations in Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

“So they will still be offering the vast majority of the service they had previously scheduled for this winter,” Chase told CityNews Halifax.

But she feels for the passengers that have been affected.

“We’re not just looking at a weekend to Toronto where you can rebook that exact same trip with another airline or on another day,” she explained. “People are booking these vacations well in advance and taking time off.”

“I would say that having some advanced notice … at least there is some opportunity to look at an option to rebook, which I believe is being offered by Sunwing, but you might have to look at a different destination or another resort. And we also have other airlines offering services, so people could look to another airline to see if there’s an opportunity.”

This time last year, some COVID protocol were still in place for travellers, including testing requirements and proof of vaccination.

Chase reminded this is really the first full scale post-pandemic winter travel season.

“People simply weren’t flying so the airlines had to shrink their businesses and shrink their opportunities to match demand, which was very, very low. The last two winters were some of the lowest amount of [passengers] flying that we saw here at Halifax Stanfield,” she said.

Prior to the emergence of the virus, in 2019, the airport saw 4,188,443 passengers pass through. That figure dropped to 995,426 in 2020. 2021 saw a slight year-over-year increase to 1,076,458.

But now demand for travel has returned.

Chase said our airport is even seeing an increase in the number of airlines offering service to Haligonians, thanks to new ultra low-cost carriers.

“Lynx was a new airline that was introduced to Halifax Stanfield in 2022, and Flair and Swoop were two others that had already been operating,” she stated. 

“And Porter is starting to increase their service and they have new jets. The new aircraft gives them much more flexibility and options for connections into the U.S. and other locations.” even has a handy tool that will allow passengers to choose a destination from a drop down menu, then it will show them which airlines offer non-stop options to that location.

“We’re getting closer to what was offered here pre-pandemic, but there will be some of these bumps along the way with figuring out what’s the right frequency that the airline can afford to offer, how many pilots and aircraft they have to meet the demand,” Chase said.

“And the demand is high as people are coming out of the pandemic and wanting to take that vacation, or reconnect with family or friends that they haven’t seen in a few years.”

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