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Kamloops Airport sees 97 per cent drop in passenger traffic due to pandemic

July 13, 2020 - 12:04 PM

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the air travel industry globally, and at Kamloops Airport it it has taken a toll as staff remain laid off and planes remain unfilled.

The Kamloops Airport has reported a 97 per cent drop in air passenger traffic throughout their second quarter.

For the months of April, May and June the number of travellers flying in and out of the Kamloops Airport dropped significantly because of the pandemic, according to a Kamloops Airport media release.

Last year, 83,260 travellers used the Kamloops Airport in the second quarter, while during the same period this year only 2,489 faces pass through.

Ed Ratuski, the managing director of the Kamloops Airport, says he expects it to take between two to three years to get back up to the normal level of passenger traffic.

Currently, Air Canada runs a daily flight between Kamloops and Vancouver, and WestJet had recently added a daily service between Calgary and Kamloops.

Central Mountain Air offers flights between Kamloops and Prince George three times each week, but even with the reintroduction of flights, the number of travellers is still a fraction of what it normally is.

“Initially when they started with the reductions in seating capacity on the aircraft, we were seeing capacity loads at about one-quarter of what we would’ve seen, but we are seeing an increase in that with passengers loads now at about 50 to 60 per cent, which is still lower than it normally would be at this time of year,” Ratuski says. “I think as we move into summer and passengers feel more comfortable with the measures in place and they feel air travel is safe and a low risk, that we’ll start to see those numbers pick up.”

The airport has been hit hard financially due to the pandemic, which shows in the staffing levels. Five airport technicians have been laid off due to the lack of flights, and the airport had to hold off on two new hires.

“It’s impacted our revenues in a number of ways, both aeronautical and non-aeronautical sales, and by aeronautical I mean landing fees because obviously we’re not seeing as many aircraft as we did prior to COVID and the passenger terminal fees associated with those,” Ratuski says. “Non-aeronautical is parking revenues, food and beverage concessions which remain closed, those are having a significant impact on us as well.”

He estimates that parking revenues have declined in a way that mirrors the decrease in traveller traffic, with about a 95 per cent drop in parking fees.

Despite the significant impact of the pandemic in the second quarter, he believes the passenger numbers will pick up as the year progresses.

“We’re projecting to get up to about 50 percent of what our total passenger numbers were in 2019 in 2020… We’re about halfway there,” Ratuski says. “As passenger numbers start to increase, what we'll likely see is the frequency of those routes increasing to levels that they were prior to the COVID pandemic.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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