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Air Canada slashes capacity, cutting more jobs and service to Atlantic Canada

Last Updated Jan 13, 2021 at 9:23 am PST

FILE - Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

MONTREAL – Air Canada said it is reducing its first-quarter capacity by 25 per cent, a move that will mean the loss of about 1,700 jobs at the airline.

The Montreal-based carrier said the cuts will also affect more than 200 employees at its Express carriers.

Air Canada said with the cuts its capacity in the first quarter of 2021 will be about 20 per cent of what it operated in the first quarter of 2019.

This news comes on the same day that the airline announced it was suspending more routes in Atlantic Canada until further notice.

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Effective Jan. 23, the airline will suspend all service in Gander, N.L., Goose Bay, N.L., and Fredericton, N.B., the Atlantic Canada Airports Association said.

The cuts come just days after Air Canada’s latest round of service reductions in Atlantic Canada went into effect on Jan. 11.

Similarly, WestJet said in October that it would suspend 80 per cent of its Atlantic Canada capacity.

Monette Pasher, the executive director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association, said in a statement that the repercussions of the cuts would be felt for years to come in communities in Atlantic Canada.

Airlines have blamed a lack of federal support for the air sector as the reason for the dramatic reduction in service.