Summer traffic loss severe: No recovery in sight.

Atlantic Canadian airport traffic down 92%

For immediate release

(HALIFAX) Tuesday, September 22, 2020 – With what would normally be peak tourism season for Atlantic Canada’s airports drawing to a close, numbers show a substantial decline in passengers resulting in massive revenue losses. Air travel in Atlantic Canada was down a staggering 92 percent year-over-year from April to the end of August in comparison to 2019, a decline of 3.7 million passengers.

The Atlantic Canada Airports Association (ACAA), the industry voice of 11 airports in the region says our region’s airports are facing severe and enduring losses from the pandemic. Atlantic airports are projecting to lose 5.5 million passengers this year resulting in a net loss of $76 million for 2020.

“Summer results are in. What is normally a period in which airports depend to boost revenues for the entire year saw passenger traffic down 89 percent and 87 percent respectively in July and August in comparison to 2019,”

– Monette Pasher, ACAA Executive Director

“Throughout the pandemic our region’s airports have stayed open, providing an essential service to our communities, as they always have done, as airports are needed for medevac flights, air cargo and the movement of essential workers.”

Pasher continued, “It’s been a difficult situation since the start of the pandemic, frankly we’ve already hit rock bottom in terms of revenue losses and now it’s like the bottom is falling out: as the pandemic continues and Atlantic Canada remains cut off from the rest of the country, we do not see any recovery in sight, which means our airport losses will continue to mount.”

The impact of this traffic decline on the bottom line will severely hamper growth and recovery for our communities as airports are forced to use capital reserves to survive or borrow to make up for operating losses and debt obligations.

“We have grave concerns over how this will impact our region’s connectivity and what it could mean for the cost of travel in our market going forward,”

– Monette Pasher, ACAA Executive Director

Derrick Stanford, President of ACAA and CEO of Saint John Airport says, “There are not many sectors hit harder than air transportation. There are few passengers, which means little revenue and since we operate essential infrastructure and cannot close, the only tool in our toolbox is to curb operating costs as much as we can in order to limp to the starting line of recovery when the time comes.”

When we turn to economic recovery, our communities need air service and connectivity for business to thrive, and we need the federal government’s support to get through this period in order to be the economic spark plugs for our communities once again. Stanford says, “It’s been 6 months, Canada’s airports need support. Although the wage subsidy has provided some limited relief, as the pandemic continues, we need sector specific support. The financial damage the Atlantic Airports have already sustained will take years to recover from.”

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