Calgary airport crushed by COVID-19, expecting long road to recovery

Click to play video: 'Air Canada aid package includes refunds for cancelled flights'
Air Canada aid package includes refunds for cancelled flights
The federal government has issued nearly $6 billion in financial support for Air Canada to help the airline rebuild from the effects of COVID-19. As Sarah Offin reports, conditions of the relief package include refunding customers that had flights cancelled due to the pandemic. – Apr 13, 2021

Officials with the Calgary airport think it will take five years for them to fully recover from the depressed passenger levels and decreased revenue experienced in 2020 amid COVID-19.

Details of the Calgary Airport Authority’s AGM, released on Wednesday, indicate the airport is now operating at passenger levels not seen since 1995.

Last year, YYC Calgary International Airport saw just 5.7 million guests, a drastic drop from the year before when 18 million people passed through the facility.

How bad is it?

The Calgary Airport Authority said revenues dropped 60 per cent last year, culminating in a $23-million cash deficit, with $68 million in debt taken on and total debt now sitting at $2.98 billion.

The number of passenger airlines flying out of YYC decreased from 21 to just eight last year, and the number of direct flights went from 88 to 42.

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In fact, 50 aircraft are in long-term storage.

The Calgary Airport Authority said 50 per cent of its terminal space is closed, along with 80 per cent of its eating and shopping outlets.

The airport has seen an 80 per cent decline in demand for parking, rental cars, taxis and ridesharing.

Though leisure and business travel dwindled in 2020, the airport said cargo landings jumped by 11 per cent as items like PPE, medical supplies and vaccines were shipped.

Click to play video: 'Air Canada customers wanting refunds welcome news of feds’ loan to airline'
Air Canada customers wanting refunds welcome news of feds’ loan to airline

In a Wednesday news release, the airport authority acknowledged the challenging impacts the pandemic has introduced, saying it expects there “may be consequences” for Canadians in accessing affordable air travel in the future.

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“The pandemic decimated demand for travel and erased 25 years of passenger growth at YYC,” The Calgary Airport Authority’s president and CEO Bob Sartor said.

“We know Canadians will be ready to travel by air soon. When that day comes, YYC will be ready. We all look forward to that day.”

Calgary Airport Authority launches rapid testing program for employees

As the airport works towards a full recovery, employees can now take part in the Calgary Airport Authority’s new rapid COVID-19 testing program, which began this week.

Results from the on-site antigen testing program, which is free and voluntary, are available in about 20 minutes.

The airport authority said it hopes the program will reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission among employees.

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