Solution to delayed flights at Sarnia airport may rest in size of planes

Fewer flights but on larger, more reliable aircraft are expected to improve service

Daniel Byskal, the City of Sarnia’s assistant solicitor and risk manager, says he’s optimistic a recently announced plan by Air Canada to begin using more reliable aircraft at Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport will improve service.

Certainly, the logic appears to be sound: because landing “slots” at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport are a finite resource, using aircraft that will optimize their use should mean fewer cancellations of flights leaving from Sarnia.

Beginning November 1, Air Canada is expected to leave Sarnia for Toronto at 9:20 a.m., about 90 minutes earlier than the current schedule. A second flight is scheduled to depart at 6:35 p.m.

In the summer months, the airline is tentatively scheduling a 2 p.m. flight.

The moves are a response to a survey that showed some travellers using London in light of issues with cancellations, which have been as high as 30% in a month.

With the use of one Dash 8 aircraft amongst the typical Beechcraft 1900D planes the airline has been using over the last few months, there have been only two delays or cancellations.

The changes equate to more seats in total, even though the number of flights is dropping from five to two.

To prepare for the November 1 change, Scottsdale Aviation, which operates the airport, is beginning renovations in the passenger area of the terminal.

Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, has been working with representatives of the City and the airport operator to seek public input.

“I think there’s definitely a win here,” said de Silva, adding that the lack of reliability has been among the chief complaints Chamber members have brought forward.

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