Transportation and Works
Tourism, Culture and Recreation
August 31, 2007

Government Disappointed with Air Canada’s Decision to End Transatlantic Flights

The Williams Government is frustrated and displeased after being advised by Air Canada that the airline will not offer seasonal transatlantic service next year. The decision by Air Canada means after its last flight for this summer, September 4, transatlantic flights will no longer depart from St. Johns.

Astraeus Airlines launched service from St. Johns International Airport to London's Gatwick Airport in May but earlier this month pulled out of St. John’s citing low customer support.

The Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Transportation and Works, described the current situation as "unacceptable".

"Air Canada decided to abandon the transatlantic market in Newfoundland and Labrador last year but decided this summer to come back to ensure that since they weren't going to provide this necessary service, then no other provider, such as Astraeus, would be able to either," said Minister Hickey. "The result of these deplorable actions is second-class service to the citizens of this province."

The Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said Air Canada's inconsistent approach to transatlantic services is hurting this province.

"Direct air access is an important factor in a traveller's choice of destination," Minister Hedderson said. "A decision to pull back the transatlantic service at this time clearly jeopardizes our efforts to attract both business travellers and tourists from the UK and European markets."

The Honourable Kevin O'Brien, Minister of Business, said air travel to Europe is a significant component of the province's transportation network.

"International travel opportunities are essential to attract the necessary players as we continue to grow and develop business in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister O’Brien. "It would certainly be ideal to work with an airline that can demonstrate the proper commitment and confidence in our economy."

Minister Hickey concluded by saying: "Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have historically been able to avail of transatlantic flights from our province and now were forced to take a huge step back thanks to this underhanded tactic by Air Canada. However, this government is working with the St. Johns Airport Authority to aggressively promote the opportunity for transatlantic service to other airlines."


Media contacts:

David Salter
Director of Communications Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 691-3577
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
709-729-0928, 697-5061
John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Business
709-729-7628, 728-7762

2007 08 31                                     3:40 p.m.

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