Regina, Saskatoon airports could lose international designation
REGINA -- Regina and Saskatoon's airports could lose their international designation, according to documents released by Transport Canada.
In an Advisory Circular effective Jan. 26, Transport Canada listed all Canadian airports that will continue to hold the international designation. Regina and Saskatoon were not included on that list.
"Airports not listed above having the term ‘International’ or ‘INTL’ published in the header information of the aeronautical products must demonstrate to the Regional TCCA office, no later than June 30, 2021, that they meet the requirements for designation as stated in this AC to maintain their publication as such," the Transport Canada advisory states.
Regina Airport Authority President and CEO James Bogusz confirmed the move to CTV News on Monday morning.
"As it sits today, ourselves, Saskatoon and a number of other Canadian airports have had their international designation removed as part of this announcement," Bogusz said.
Bogusz said that while the airports will continue to be able to receive cross border flights from the United States, the status of flights from other international destinations is unclear.
"A big part of our flying in the winter is to international destinations such as Mexico, Cuba, Caribbean," Bogusz said. "But we have not received confirmation of [how] those types of flights will be impacted in the future."
With both Regina and Saskatoon losing the international designation, that would leave the province without an international airport, and without one in its capital city.
However, it is possible for the decision to be changed. Bogusz said the Regina airport is in the process of trying to regain international status.
"We're basically working through the steps, which primarily is reaching out to other agencies, like Canada Border Services, the Public Health Agency of Canada and a number of others, to confirm that we meet all their requirements to be an international airport," Bogusz said. "That work is underway as we speak."
Airports must make their case to Transport Canada by the end of June.
"If an airport is not on this list but is of the opinion that it meets all of the requirements for designation as “International” that airport should make a request for approval to TCCA in accordance with the criteria in this document no later than June 30, 2021," the advisory states.
Andrew Leeming, a VP with Skyxe, said they do not believe Saskatoon’s airport will lose international status.
“In reviewing the criteria, the Saskatoon Airport Authority does not anticipate any change in the International designation as the main requirements are already met,” said Leeming in an email.
International flights are not currently flying into Regina due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Bogusz says losing those flights in the future would impact the airport's pandemic recovery.
"We want to make sure our airport can get back up to full strength and the international designation is certainty a component of that, and we are going to push hard to make sure we recover that," Bogusz said.
Regina Wascana MP Michael Kram voiced his concerns about the move in a release Monday, calling it a "blow to Saskatchewan air transportation infrastructure."
“The term ‘international’ is not just an honourary title. It’s a global classification system that airlines use to determine where they direct flights. The loss of this designation may mean that charter flights and the few direct international flights still coming into Regina may be redirected to other centres," Kram said, in a statement.
“The one ray of hope is that there is an appeal process for airports to reclaim their status. I will continue to consult with the executive of the Regina Airport and fight for their interests on the committee."
With files from CTV Morning Live Regina and Wayne Mantyka