‘Saw it coming’: London International Airport CEO responds to new flight suspensions

The president and CEO of a London, Ont., airport says he “saw it coming” when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new flight suspensions Friday.

“As an industry, I think we certainly expected it,” said Mike Seabrook with the London International Airport while speaking with 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady on Let’s Talk London.

During his announcement, Trudeau said Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have all agreed to cancel air services to “all Caribbean destinations and Mexico,” starting Sunday.

The cancellations will continue until April 30.

Read more:
Airlines suspend flights to sun destinations until April 30 amid growing variant concerns

Seabrook says the London International Airport lost all of its flights to the Caribbean and Mexico in March of last year, “so the only thing we’ve had since is domestic flights.”

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“We’ve been at the bottom for eight months (or so), and (this is) just another nail in the coffin.”

Prior to the pandemic, the airport offered direct flights to tropical destinations such as Cancun, Mexico and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“This whole process has … really, really hammered aviation,” said Seabrook. “But as an industry, we certainly get it. We don’t want to put anyone at harm and we support (safety) measures.”

Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canadian airlines have suspended flights to ‘all Caribbean destinations and Mexico’

Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canadian airlines have suspended flights to ‘all Caribbean destinations and Mexico’

In the meantime, staff at the London International Airport is keeping busy with ongoing maintenance.

“We’ve got a significant reduction of our staff out there, so it’s all hands on deck. We have managers and people who don’t plow, [now doing] snow plowing snow and shoveling. We’re trying to utilize what resources we have because there is a minimum standard we have to adhere to,” said Seabrook.

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“We have to make sure planes landing and taking off do so in a safe manner. We’ve got air ambulances and cargo flights that are still coming in.”

The president and CEO says he’s hopeful the aviation industry will bounce back once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“If the vaccines can get out there, if we can refine (testing) at airports and get people to feel confident to travel again, then as an industry, we’ll be back to the prosperous times we’ve had before.”

Read more:
Travellers to pay ‘more than $2K’ for new mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine, Trudeau says

Trudeau’s announcement also included a new mandatory PCR testing requirement at airports for people returning to Canada. While travellers wait for their COVID-19 test result, they’ll be quarantined at a designated hotel on their own dime.

Trudeau said the cost for this is “expected to be more than $2,000.”

Cases linked to international travel account for two per cent of COVID-19 cases in Canada.

More than 6.3 million travellers who have entered Canada since the start of the pandemic were not required to quarantine, according to new figures Global News obtained Thursday from the Canada Border Services Agency.

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–With files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore, Andrew Russell and Jess Brady

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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