Nova Scotia

Sydney Airport Authority hopes to see Halifax flights return

The CEO of the Sydney Airport Authority says he wants direct flights to Halifax to return.

“That’s my number 1 priority and the priority of everyone I speak to in our community. ‘Where do you want to go?’ It’s Halifax. You can connect from Halifax to just about anywhere, so that’s what we’re primarily focused on,” Myles Tuttle told CBC News on Tuesday. 

Air Canada once offered direct flights between Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport but officially ended those routes in 2022 because the number of bookings was too low. The drive time between Halifax and Sydney is about 4.5 hours. 

“A lot of business takes place between Cape Breton and the Halifax area. It would mean a lot for connecting to go on vacations, to travel for business, to travel for education — all of that,” Tuttle said, adding he’s optimistic about the route returning.

“We’ve been having discussions with my counterparts at the Halifax Airport Authority as well as a number of regional airlines to meet that need — hopefully — very soon.”

Last year, the head of Cape Breton’s tourism marketing agency said a lack of flights in and out of J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport was a “serious concern.”

Myles Tuttle is the CEO of the Sydney Airport Authority. (Kyle Moore/CBC)

Aside from Air Canada, Tuttle said he’s been speaking with “every airline that flies” about a potential return of flights to Halifax.

He said he’s grateful to Air Canada, which currently has flights to Montreal and Toronto.

The airport is still recovering from the pandemic, he said, and is averaging 100,000 passengers a year, which is still only half of what it was during pre-pandemic times.

“There are things like having the right pilots with the right qualifications. There’s a gap in skill right now that leaves the regional market under served, so that consists of the pilots, the flight attendants, and the actual aircraft base,” Tuttle said.

the exterior of an airport on a sunny day.
JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport in Sydney, N.S., on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Kyle Moore/CBC)

Sydney recently finished hosting two major sporting events with teams arriving from around the world.

Terry Smith, CEO of Destination Cape Breton, said having limited fight options created a challenge.

“Thankfully we had Air Canada work with us to increase seat capacity for that event and have offered to do so for other events. But we really need to get back to the seat capacity we had before.”

An Air Canada arrivals and department board at J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport in Sydney, N.S.
An Air Canada arrivals and department board at J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport in Sydney, N.S. Air Canada only flies to Montreal and Toronto out of Sydney. (Kyle Moore/CBC)

Tuttle said airport traffic was slower this past winter after massive snowfall in February.

“Our team battled about four feet of snow on the runway,” he said, but he’s optimistic that summer will be 15 to 20 per cent busier than it was in the winter.

See also  Calls mount for vacant Halifax buildings to be turned into housing

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