With Pascan Aviation set to begin offering services out of Kingston this September, the City of Kingston will once again see regularly scheduled flights to and from Kingston Airport. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced Air Canada to leave Kingston in the spring of 2020, there has been no regular air service to and from the regional airport.
Pascan will offer two flights a day, seven days a week, with coverage between Kingston Airport and Montreal’s Pierre Trudeau (Dorval) Airport. The airline’s partnerships with Air Canada and Air Transat will allow passengers to book connecting flights out of Kingston, with hundreds of destinations on offer.
“The Kingston Airport has been without air service for two years. I view Pascan as a new beginning for the Kingston Airport,” said Aron Winterstein, Airport Manager for the City of Kingston. Pascan’s introduction to the Kingston market was officially announced last fall, with coverage initially set to begin in March. However, delays forced the airline to postpone its arrival, and service is now set to begin on Monday, Sep. 12, 2022.
“Pascan is one of the largest independent regional carriers in Eastern Canada and [has] been very successful building a regional service in Quebec. Their SAAB 340 is the perfect sized aircraft to rebuild our service; the 33-seat plane will enable us to quickly and efficiently increase flight frequencies as demand allows,” stated Winterstein. The arrangement between Pascan and Kingston Airport is a permanent one, providing guaranteed service to and from Kingston as post-COVID travel picks up.
Winterstein said it will likely take some time for the aviation industry to get back to where it was before the 2020 shutdowns. “We are anticipating an initial surge of passengers [this fall] due to pent-up demand. However, like all other airports around the globe, we are also anticipating passenger levels to be below pre-pandemic levels for a number of years. Together with Tourism Kingston, Kingston Economic Development, Pascan Aviation, and FlyGTA, we will work to build and grow Kingston’s air service.”
While local travellers will now be connected to major destinations through service to Montreal, those hoping for direct flights and additional carriers beyond the service offered through Pascan will have to wait. “The airport is always seeking new opportunities. Our immediate focus is to ensure the success of our new and existing air services,” Winterstein said when asked whether the airport was in talks with additional carriers.
In terms of a potential return by Air Canada, Winterstein noted that Kingston travelers will have access to that airline through its partnership with the new carrier. “Pascan Aviation already has an interline agreement with Air Canada, providing Kingstonians with access to the Air Canada network… All you have to do is visit Expedia.ca and book your ticket from Kingston to your final destination.”
In 2018, Kingston Airport completed a multi-year, 1,000-foot expansion of its runway, with additional modernizations and renovations to the airport terminal carried out over the following year. Initially, officials had hoped the expanded and renovated airport might attract new carriers and service offerings. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans, as the entire industry faced significant losses.
“The pandemic changed the aviation landscape,” said Winterstein, “and we had to pivot the same as many other businesses and industries. Our immediate goal was to reconnect Kingston to the world. I am proud to say through dedication and hard work, in collaboration with Tourism Kingston and Kingston Economic Development, we have been able to achieve this goal through the addition of the Pascan Aviation air service.”
He added, “Reconnecting Kingston to the world is the first step in achieving the original goals of the airport expansion project. Realizing our pre-pandemic goals will largely depend on passenger demand and community support. I believe this is the right time — that Kingstonians are ready to embrace and support the new air service and that Kingston Airport will be back on track to realizing the goals of the expansion project in the near future.”
Pascan Aviation is not the only airline providing service to and from Kingston. In January, FlyGTA began offering service to and from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport, with various flight times available throughout the week and weekend. At this point in time, Montreal and Toronto are the only two destinations available for local travellers looking to fly out of Kingston Airport.
Kingston Norman Rogers Airport is owned by the City of Kingston, representatives of which were involved in negotiating the recently announced agreement with Pascan Aviation.
Editorial note: A previous version of this article incorrectly named West Jet as one of the partner airlines for new service at the Kingston Airport. Air Transat is one of the partner airlines for this interline agreement, West Jet is not.