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Jul 3, 2020

Saskatchewan premier urges feds to help airlines survive COVID-19

Saskatchewan premier urges feds to help airlines survive COVID-19

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is warning it could be harder for businesses to ramp up their operations after Air Canada decided to suspend four regional routes to and from the province’s main cities.

On June 30, Air Canada announced it would indefinitely halt a total of 30 domestic regional routes, with Saskatchewan being one of the most affected; the airline cancelled service connecting the province’s capital to Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Ottawa, as well as the Saskatoon-Ottawa route.

“We’re an exporting province. We export products to over 150 countries around the world and we have business that we need to do in those areas,” Moe told BNN Bloomberg Friday.

As the airline industry struggles to cope with the pandemic, Moe urged the federal government to keep the lines of communication open to ensure that “at the end of this we still have Canadian-owned airlines.”

“That is a concern for many,” he said.

The route discontinuations were among Air Canada’s latest attempts to reduce expenses as travel restrictions and border closures decimate the global aviation industry and cast doubt on the future of certain airlines.

Having fewer travel options linking Regina and Saskatoon to other major Canadian cities also adds another challenging dimension to the province’s economic recovery.

Saskatchewan is one of the Canadian provinces not only dealing with COVID-19 but the oil price crash as well -- which is why with the federal government’s fiscal update on the horizon, Moe wants to see some flexibility on Ottawa’s part when it comes to financial aid for the provinces.

“COVID-19 has affected different areas of this nation in vastly different ways. We, as Alberta and Newfoundland did, entered into negative energy pricing for a period of time during this challenge. I would hope there’s some flexibility with the relationship with provinces so the provinces can address what is their particular challenge – whether it be economic or health care-related,” he said.