Traffic slowly starting to pick up at Maritime airports
DIEPPE, N.B. -- Passenger traffic is up at some Maritime airports.
A slow but steady climb out of the COVID doldrums have seen nearly 6,000 people fly out of Moncton airport in July.
That’s a far cry from what was seen just a year ago.
"In July we saw 5,814 passengers, which is great growth, but very short from where we normally are," said Bernard LeBlanc, the president of the Greater Moncton Roméo Leblanc International Airport.
Normally, that number is over 60,000. As a result, the airport will lose in excess of $10 million dollars this year -- more than 50 per cent of its annual revenue.
Flights returned to Saint John airport on June 22, but only 1,588 passengers flew in July, down from 28,000 the previous year.
Like Moncton, the region's largest airport is seeing a modest increase in air traffic.
"In July, we were still 90 per cent fewer passengers in our airport than compared to last year and it’s been as low as 98 per cent in April and May, so a slight uptick but we certainly have a long way to go for recovery," said Halifax Stanfield International Airport spokesperson Tiffany Chase.
Part of that recovery could happen if a Canada-wide bubble is established.
"In Western Canada, there is a bit more activity because there are less travel restrictions, so when Atlantic Canada can get into that bubble, that’s something we think will definitely help the Moncton airport and Atlantic Canadian airports," LeBlanc said.
Luckily, cargo has been consistent. Domestic shipments are down by about 20 per cent, but international cargo flights are relatively unchanged.
"Cargo has been sustaining a lot of our revenue base as has the federal wage subsidy program," LeBlanc said.
PAL airlines will be starting service from Moncton to Newfoundland on Sept. 21.
Ottawa flights are in the works too if and when travel restrictions are lifted with Ontario.
As a result of COVID-19, 26 per cent of full time employees at the Moncton airport have been laid off to mitigate financial losses.
When they are rehired depends on how quickly people return to the skies.
As for when airports are expecting to return to pre-pandemic levels, LeBlanc says it looks like it will be in 2024.