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Losses soar as traffic dwindles at Maritime airports
MONCTON, N.B. -- The ground equipment at the Greater Moncton Romeo Leblanc International Airport sits idle.
A quick look at air traffic over Eastern Canada shows why.
In Moncton there are currently only three commercial flights a week, all to Toronto. 40,000 fewer passengers used the airport in March alone -- and it could get worse.
"April, May and June, we're not down 100 per cent, but we're probably down 98 per cent of traffic, so there's very minimal activity," says Bernard Leblanc, the airport's CEO.
A return to 2019 numbers could be a ways off. Leblanc says it took two years to fully recover from 9-11. He says recovering from COVID-19 could take even longer.
"Two weeks ago, we were saying we should be back to normal by July 2022," Leblanc said. "That may be optimistic, so it may take us until the end of 2023 or even longer."
Traffic is also down significantly at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, says Joyce Carter, the president and CEO of the Maritimes' largest airport.
"This time of year, on average we would see 11,000 passengers a day go through Halifax Stanfield and we're seeing roughly 200 to 300 passengers a day go through our facility," Carter said. "We will see reductions in revenue this year in the $40-$50-million range."
There are some signs that point to a slight turnaround.
Air Canada has indicated service could return to Moncton by the end of June. The airline is also slowly adding some vacation destinations to their flight plans.
Travel experts are encouraging people to do their research before booking a flight.
"Currently, all travel insurers are not covering anything COVID related, so if you were to get ill, if you had a flight interruption or anything that’s related to COVID you would not be insured," said Gary Howard of CAA Travel in Saint John.