Air Canada relief package offers no relief for Sarnia airport

Vacant Chris Hadfield Airport in Sarnia Oct. 2020 (Photo by Matt McNeill)

Sarnia’s mayor says a deal between the federal government and Air Canada won’t be of any benefit to Chris Hadfield Airport.

The government is giving the airline $5.9-billion subject to various conditions including that some of the funds be used to restore service at regional airports.

Mike Bradley said Sarnia is not eligible for any money because the local service was cut before the pandemic.

“That’s something that I personally disagree with,” said Bradley. “I think that Air Canada, over the few years leading to the end of the service at the airport, did everything they could to decline the service by cancelling flights and the cost of the flights. So, they’re giving us a flat no. They did offer to work with us to see if there’s another airline that we could perhaps attract into the area.”

Bradley said if another airline does come to town, it would likely be smaller but at least there would be service in and out of the local airport. Right now, there are no commercial flights that connect to larger centres.

He said the local airport taskforce is working hard on a turnaround plan, and the area’s designation as a Foreign Trade Zone this week could be of benefit.

Air Canada stopped offering flights into Sarnia in July of 2020, citing declining ridership as one of the reasons.