Airline industry predicts bleak future if pandemic doesn't end soon
The airline industry in Atlantic Canada is buckling up for more turbulent times ahead as passenger numbers and revenue drop off dramatically due to COVID-19.
On a weekday afternoon, the Saint John Airport has all the appearance of a ghost town with only one commercial flight a day now travelling into and out of the city because of COVID-19.
In an email to CTV News, CEO Derrick Stanford says they're facing an 85 per cent drop in passenger volumes, and that looking to 2021, the future of the facility looks bleak. It's a sentiment shared by other airports, including that of Greater Moncton.
"Until more people are allowed to travel and are comfortable travelling, it may be a few years until we get back to last year's numbers," said Moncton airport CEO Bernard Leblanc.
Meantime, Premier Blaine Higgs said yesterday he is looking at reviewing the number of airports in New Brunswick.
"I have no preconceived notions but let's just look, do a fair assessment and understand what is the benefit, and maybe there's none," Higgs said. Elsewhere in the Maritimes, the pandemic is also taking its toll at the airport in Sydney. There are fears Air Canada could end its daily flight into and out of the airport and it is the only passenger service left.
At the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, flight activity and passenger traffic are about 90-percent down.
Spokesperson Tiffany Chase says they don't see things improving as restrictions continue and COVID cases elsewhere continue to rise.
"We're projecting around a 70-million-dollar deficit for this year, we're 100-million-dollar organization normally and so that's a significant portion of our revenue," Chase says.
Airports have also made deep cuts to expenses in order to conserve cash and survive the pandemic.