HALIFAX -- The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has halted the decades-long air travel boom and is poised to forever change how we fly.

Joyce Carter, CEO of the Halifax International Airport Authority, says the Halifax Stanfield International Airport has seen a significant drop in passengers during the entire month of April than it would have seen on an average day last year.

Now, Atlantic Canada’s busiest airport is operating at nearly 3 per cent of its normal capacity.

“April and May would normally be very busy months at Halifax Stanfield … we would normally see a lot of sun destination travellers,” says Carter.

“In late April and early May, it is usually the start of our non-stop European seasonal service. So we would launch, at this time of year, flights to Dublin, London Gatwick, Glasgow, and we were scheduled to launch Manchester. So, pre COVID-19 we would have seen at Halifax Stanfield an average of 11,000 people, roughly, a day go through our facilities. A busy day for us right now would see no more than 300 passengers, so between 200 to 300 passengers a day.”

Last month, Halifax Stanfield International Airport saw a passenger reduction of 97.3 per cent over April of the previous year.

“We’re averaging four to seven flights daily. People are travelling right now, but only if they must,” says Carter.

Carter says the airport experience is quite different from what it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The first thing you’ll notice is there is lots of parking available, so you won’t have to circle to find a spot. Very few cars parked in our parkade. Our Park’NFly lot has been closed, as well as some of our exterior parking and several levels of our parkade have closed,” says Carter.

“You’ll see entire sections of our airport closed to save money on things like light, and heating and cooling. You’ll also notice that the vast majority of our food and beverage and our retailers are closed and that’s due to lack of demand, as well as some restrictions of food and beverage put in place by the province. All of our public seating in the food court has been removed, decals on the floor to indicate proper physical distancing, and you’ll also notice it is pretty quiet in the hold room.”

In the coming weeks, Carter says Halifax Stanfield International Airport will have further changes to how passengers flow through the terminal.

“There is no question that travel in the future will look different than it has in the past. We are working really closely with our airline partners to implement the health and safety measures whenever possible, so that passengers can feel really safe as they transition through our facility,” she says.