Pascan Aviation, which bills itself as “the people’s regional airline,” is pausing its service in this region, just short of one year since it was announced that the company had formed interline agreements with Air Canada and Air Transat, allowing passengers to plan flights from Kingston that would “seamlessly connect anywhere in the world where Air Canada and Air Transat fly.”
According to a news release on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, from The City of Kingston, “in an effort to provide a greater level of customer service based on traveller needs, Pascan Aviation will be pausing air service at YGK Airport as of January 6, 2023. Travellers holding tickets on Pascan Aviation will be have those bookings honoured through January 6, 2023.”
Pascan bookings “are not where they need to be,” said Aron Winterstein, YGK Airport Manager, in an interview with Kingstonist. He noted that the low booking rate was the “ultimate driver” behind the decision to pause the service.
Asked what he thought was the reason for the low rate of Pascan bookings, Winterstein explained, “historically we had Air Canada here, and lots of people were comfortable going on to [that] airline’s website directly.” But, he said, customers reported that they were hesitant to book with Pascan. “One of the biggest barriers is that they want to be able to book direct with Air Canada; as well, they want to be able to redeem their Aeroplan points.”
Currently, travellers cannot book directly on the Air Canada website, use Aeroplan points for bookings, or speak with an Air Canada booking agent.
“The main problem is that there’s not enough exposure because we don’t have a full interline agreement with Air Canada,” said Winterstein. “So we’ve decided to pause the service until a full interline agreement is able to be reached, so that we’ll have a much larger reach with regards to exposure for the travelling public.”
In April 2021 the federal government agreed to provide pandemic relief funding to Air Canada after what former Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu called the “bleakest year in the history of commercial aviation”; he announced at that time that the airline had lost a staggering $1.16 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020.
As a condition of its agreement with the federal government, Air Canada made a number of commitments, including ensuring that Canadians and communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada, through the restart of service at airports temporarily suspended by Air Canada.
For seven airports, including Kingston, where Air Canada had cancelled service, the airline agreed to seek interline agreements with other carriers with a view to ensuring those Canadians continue to have convenient access to their preferred airports and the flights they need.
Winterstein said, “Air Canada is committed to providing this interline agreement to Pascan; it’s just the timeline has been much longer than we had anticipated. We were anticipating the interline agreement to be in full effect no later than the first quarter of 2023. That timeline has been postponed, and that has led to the pause in service.”
“The agreement is actually between Air Canada and the air carrier that it is servicing us, so it doesn’t come through the City of Kingston directly… This is just a temporary pause until we can get the necessary agreements in place. The City, in collaboration with our partners, will be working to get service back as soon as we possibly can,” he continued.
Service from Kingston to Montreal continues through Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. For passengers who have flights scheduled after January 6, Winterstein stated that Pascan would be “reaching out to all of the passengers and rebooking them according to [its] procedures.”