Despite an earlier announcement that Air Canada flights would resume in Kingston in June of 2020, the date for the company’s return-to-service has now been pushed back to September.
“We are scheduled to resume flights to Kingston September 8,” Peter Fitzpatrick, a Communications Officer with Air Canada said in an email to Kingstonist.
Aron Winterstein, Airport Manager at Kingston Airport (also known as Norman Rogers Airport) confirmed this decision.
“Air Canada has proposed a September return-to-service,” he said, noting that the date has been postponed from the earlier June date for flights to resume. “That date is sliding – it could come forward or it could be postponed further – it really all depends on travel restrictions between provinces and the United States. Those kind of influences will influence when the return-to-service date actually happens.”
Since Air Canada suspended flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial passenger flights have been grounded here in Kingston. But that doesn’t mean the airport has been closed, Winterstein explained. The airport has been and is open to flight traffic: Monday to Friday it sees daily flights that move medical patients from Moosonee to Kingston for hospital visits, there is a daily freight flight that comes in with, and then outside of that, there are many private pilots flying their aircraft. On top of that, the Canadian Armed Force, as well as medical emergency flights come in and out of the Kingston Airport outside of scheduled flight activity.
“So we’re open for business, but we have closed the terminal to the general public until air service resumes,” Winterstein said.
Additionally, staff at Norman Rogers have used the time without commercial flights to get the airport ready for when flights resume, particularly with regard to COVID-19 protocols,
“Actually, before Air Canada decided to suspend their service, we put in additional protocols immediately, including additional cleaning and queuing to allow for social distancing,” Winterstein said. “Now we’re talking with airports from across Canada so that we can have a standardized approach to reopening safely.
“We feel that it’s important to have these measures and be standardized right across the province and the country, if possible,” he continued. “Additional measures like the ones we’ve already got in place will be put in place when the time comes.”
The pushed-back date may make things difficult for students or faculty members planning to fly into Kingston. The fall term at the Royal Military College of Canada and St. Lawrence College begins on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 – the same day flights are currently scheduled to resume – and the fall term at Queen’s University begins on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.
But with the school year resuming the fall – and health care authorities already planning for an influx of faculty and students, leading to more cases of COVID-19 in the KFL&A region – will the Kingston Airport be ready to receive passenger flights if Air Canada does resume flights into Kingston in early September?
“Absolutely,” Winterstein said with confidence. “We will absolutely be ready to ensure that people travelling through the airport can do so in a safe and mindful manner.”
As for anyone who had tickets to fly out of Kingston or return to Kingston prior to Air Canada suspending its flights, Winterstein said that the refunding or crediting of those tickets has to be done through Air Canada.
“Each situation is different. For information, please see the ‘Book with Flexibility’ section of this webpage,” Fitzpatrick suggested for customers with cancelled flights. “It explains the various options for customers, including refunds for those who purchased refundable tickets.”