Charlottetown, PE – Early in 2020, YYG Charlottetown Airport appeared to be on pace for an exciting year with news of new routes and airlines, and record passenger projections in sight. In the span of five weeks, there were three announcements of new routes scheduled to launch in late June – WestJet service to Calgary, Swoop service to Hamilton, and Flair service to Toronto. However, in mid-March, all of that optimism took a turn as COVID-19 shut down air travel across the country and subsequently has shattered the aviation industry.
In 2020, YYG saw just 71,480 passengers go through the airport, a decrease of 81% compared to 2019, by far the lowest number on record in the last 45 years. Over 71% of passenger movements took place in the first quarter as only 20,727 people went through the airport from April to December. During the last 9 months of 2020, passenger traffic was down almost 94%.
“I have always said that there are a lot of factors that will influence passenger movements up or down, many of which are out of our control. What we went through in 2020 with COVID-19 is a perfect example of that,” says YYG Charlottetown Airport CEO, Doug Newson. “The hardest thing about the past year was to see firsthand how much the pandemic has impacted the lives of so many great people that work at the Charlottetown Airport, and those that rely on efficient air access for our province. We know that we will recover from COVID-19, and will be here to serve our passengers and our community when the time is right, but we also know it is going to take time to rebuild air access for Prince Edward Island.”
Over the course of the past 10 months, YYG Charlottetown Airport has taken significant measures to provide a safe operating environment for those that continue to work at the airport and those that do need to travel. There was also a significant effort to reduce operating expenses and defer capital projects, while keeping a focus on our most important strategic priority of operating a safe and secure airport.
Needless to say, the pandemic and associated travel restrictions, have had a devastating financial impact on YYG. “We are extremely thankful for government supports received to date, especially the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, and are encouraged by what was announced in the Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement on November 9th,” said Newson. “However, we continue to stress the need for urgency when it comes to sufficient financial support for our battered national airline partners and the implementation of a science-based approach to the safe restart of air travel, both of which will be critical to help rebuild our province’s economy, tourism sector, and trade.”
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About YYG Charlottetown Airport
Charlottetown Airport Authority Inc. assumed operational and financial responsibility for the Charlottetown Airport on March 1, 1999. The Board of Directors oversee the affairs of the airport with a mission to provide a safe, secure, and fiscally responsible airport that connects PEI to the world and drives economic growth. Prior to 2020, more than 383,000 passengers were served annually, generating more than $103-million in total economic activity in Prince Edward Island.
Doug Newson, CEO