Regina and Saskatoon airports not getting international flights when border restrictions lift

The air traffic control tower in the background at the Regina International Airport. (Photo: Outlaw Communications)

When fully vaccinated Americans can begin travelling to Canada for pleasure August 9, Regina and Saskatoon won’t see any of that air traffic, at least not directly.

Both of Saskatchewan’s largest airports have been left off a list released from the federal government that shows cities who will be allowed to welcome direct international flights.

At the height of travel restrictions, international flights could only land in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa.

International flights will now be able to arrive in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Halifax as well.

This means airlines with sun destinations like Sunwing, who have already announced a return to Saskatchewan this winter and have been selling tickets, will not be allowed to land in the province if the latest announcement stays the course.

The same goes for WestJet, which had plans for direct flights from Saskatchewan to destinations like Las Vegas, as soon as October.

President and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority James Bogusz, says Quebec City is a beautiful airport and travel destination, but if they’re on the list, why not Regina or Saskatoon.

“That airport is very similar and almost the same size as Saskatoon and Regina’s,” Bogusz said. “We have the same infrastructure and certainly the same propensity for travel, and we have to remember that commercial aviation is just part of the loss that we are seeing here, we also have a lot of corporate business that could be flying direct from the U.S. to our city as well,” Bogusz said.

Right now the number one priority for YQR is reaching out to Ottawa to get some clarity as to when and if things will change, Bogusz said they’ve been given no information on that to date.

M.P for Regina Wascana Michael Kram expressed his frustration and displeasure in a news release.

“First there was the lack of pandemic funding. Then there was the threat to close the air traffic control tower. Next they threatened to strip YQR of international status. Now they are choking off international flights for no reason. It’s hard not to read a message into these repeated attacks on Saskatchewan air transportation,” Kram said.

“This is in spite of the fact that YQR was ahead of the curve of many airports in instituting its own private sector rapid testing facility, at the time one of the only publicly available rapid test sites in the city. YQR has been as safe or safer than many other airports during the pandemic,” Kram also said.

“It speaks volumes that the Quebec City Airport, an airport of approximately the same size and airport class as Regina’s, has been allowed to accept international flights yet we cannot. The message is clear, if you are in the Liberals’ good books, you are rewarded. If you are not, you are punished. That’s not called a democracy, it’s called a kleptocracy,” Kram said.




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