Air Canada suspension extended

Air Canada has extended its suspension at the Fort St. John airport until May 31.

The suspension began April 2, with flights initially planned to resume this month. WestJet continues to fly out of Fort St. John to Calgary, though on a reduced schedule, while Central Mountain Air commercial service remains suspended until June 8.

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Since mid-March, Air Canada has slashed its flight schedule by more than 90% and grounded more than 200 aircraft, cutting service internationally to just five airports. Passenger revenue dropped by $604 million or 16 per cent year over year in the first quarter as the company burned $22 million in cash per day in March.

With losses topping $1 billion last quarter, Air Canada predicts it will take at least three years to return to the flight capacity and earnings heights of 2019 due to the "cataclysmic effect" of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're now living through the darkest period ever in the history of commercial aviation, significantly worse than 9/11, SARS and the 2008 financial crisis," CEO Calin Rovinescu said on a conference call with analysts Monday.

The country's largest airline hopes to ease that burn rate as it cuts costs, but has "no revenue coming in other than cargo" in the second quarter, chief financial officer Michael Rousseau said.

Third-quarter capacity will be reduced by 75% compared to a year earlier, the carrier predicted.

The Montreal-based company said it has reached $1.05 billion in cost savings, achieved in part by furloughing about 20,000 of its 38,000 employees.

— with files from The Canadian Press

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

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