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Air Canada extends cut to North Bay service

Revenue shortage could mean multi-million-dollar hit to taxpayers, permanent closure
USED 2019-12-19goodmorningnorthbaybct  4 Landed safely. Jack Garland airport. North Bay. Photo by Brenda Turl for BayToday.
Revenue at Jack Garland Airport in North Bay is down thanks to cancelled flights, putting the facility's future in serious jeopardy. (Brenda Turl for BayToday)

Some more bad news for North Bay's Jack Garland Airport and, by extension, city taxpayers.

Air Canada has extended its temporary suspension of service until June 30. Travellers now won't be able to take an Air Canada flight between North Bay and Toronto until at least July.

The air carrier said its temporary suspension of local flights and airport operations, due to COVID-19, has been extended to June 30. That information is contained on its website.

Back in March, the service was put on hold until the end of April, then extended to the end of May, and now further extended again.

The company had offered daily scheduled service from North Bay to Toronto.

"We continue to adapt our schedule and capacity in response to COVID-19 and have postponed launches or extended the temporary suspension of several routes," Air Canada announced on its website in March.

"Air Canada will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada and Global Affairs and will adjust its schedule as appropriate."

That means another big hit for taxpayers.

City council will float the airport $400,000 to support operations over the coming months, but that might not be enough to sustain it over the longer term.

If the city has to continue bankrolling the airport over the next 12 months, at $200,000 per month, it would result in a $2.4-million hit to city coffers and a 2 per cent increase to taxpayers, noted Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch.

“We understand that this is not sustainable for the taxpayer, and therefore we will do everything we can to ensure this level of support is only for a short period of time,” Vrebosch said.

According to a report prepared by city engineer John Severino, the airport corporation is forecasting a revenue reduction of between 70 and 80 per cent, putting the airport at risk of permanent closure.