Air Canada grounding flights into Sarnia for good

A Dash 8 Express at Chris Hadfield Airport Oct. 2018 photo by Dave Dentinger

Blackburn News Sarnia has learned Air Canada will stop flights to Sarnia this summer.

Mayor Mike Bradley confirmed the airline will end its service to the city in July.

“The city did receive notice a little while ago that there would be no Air Canada service in April because of the virus issue, however just prior to that we received notice that they would no longer continue their one flight into Sarnia as of July,” said Bradley.  “That to me is a wrong decision, we are a city that deserves full services from Air Canada, they have done this in many other communities across the country.”

Chris Hadfield Airport Operator Clare Webb said they were notified by Air Canada in a conference call last week that the service will be shut down as of July 26.  He added they’ve only had one flight a day for the past two months, and there are currently no flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Webb said there could be a brief resumption of service if the pandemic clears before the July shutdown.  The airline had to give four months notice.

Mayor Bradley said the Sarnia airport is still operating.

“We are working with the private sector group that runs the airport, and has done so for many years, we have the best deal in Canada. They absorbed any operating losses and ran it like a business. We want to work with them and find a solution.”

Bradley said he is assuring residents the airport won’t close.

“It still will have flights in and out that are not commercial and that needs to be remembered too. It’s a difficult situation. I’m not pleased that Air Canada would make this decision. I never felt they worked with the community to try to upgrade the service, to market it and now they’ve given us notice that they’ll be done in July as it relates to any Air Canada flights into Chris Hadfield Airport.”

Bradley said the airline cited declining ridership as one of the reasons.

“You can make the case when you cancel flights routinely for economic reasons, you create less customers because they can’t depend on the service and they’ve been doing that for years.  They helped create the issue of the decline in the use and now they’re turning around and washing their hands of service to Sarnia and that is wrong.  They’re a national airline that should be servicing major cities like Sarnia.”

Webb said Scottsdale Aviation is their company and they’re contracted to the city of Sarnia to run the airport until June of 2027.

-With files from Dave Dentinger