T.O.-based Pivot Airlines to launch Waterloo-Ottawa route next February

Pivot Airlines

A Toronto-based charter airline is joining the growing list of carriers serving the nation’s capital as the industry begins to ramp up after a prolonged slump during the pandemic.

Pivot Airlines said Friday it plans to offer flights between Ottawa and the Region of Waterloo International Airport beginning next Feb. 19. Tickets go on sale Friday at midnight.

The airline did not provide details on flight schedules in Friday’s media release, but Pivot CEO Eric Edmondson told the Waterloo Record last week the company plans to launch two weekday routes as well as another flight on weekends.

In a statement, Edmondson said the airline chose Waterloo as its southern Ontario base rather than Toronto because smaller terminals “offer a better, more seamless and hassle-free alternative for regional travel.”

Founded in June 2020, Pivot focuses on charter flights and essential air service for health-care workers. The company originally announced last year it planned to fly from Waterloo to Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor and Montreal.

It adds to the growing number of airlines that are launching or resuming service at Ottawa International Airport as the travel industry looks to lift itself out of its pandemic-fuelled slump.

Late last month, Air Canada began flying between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and YOW, reviving a route it dropped 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland-based PAL Airlines began serving the capital in July after scuttling plans to launch its Ottawa routes in 2020 due to the pandemic, while Porter Airlines resumed its Ottawa service in September after grounding flights early last year. 

Sunwing Airlines said in late August it plans to start flying to 11 destinations in Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic this month, with weekly flights running until March or April 2022.

Airport spokesperson Krista Kealey told OBJ last month the outlook for the industry is “starting to look a lot brighter” as passenger volumes pick up. She said it appears passengers are getting more comfortable with air travel as vaccination rates continue to rise and more restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 are lifted.

More than 60 flights are now serving the capital each day, down from about 110 before the pandemic but up substantially from fewer than 20 daily arrivals and departures this spring.  

The airport – which relies on improvement fees charged to passengers as well as terminal and landing fees, concession revenues and parking fees for most of its revenues – racked up a net loss of $51.2 million in 2020 and expects to incur an even bigger deficit this year.