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COVID-19: Vancouver International Airport lost $380M in 2020

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72 percent fewer people passed through Vancouver International Airport in 2020 and as Paul Johnson reports, the drop in passengers had a devastating impact on the bottom line of the non-profit authority that operates on a user-pay model. – May 8, 2021

The Vancouver International Airport has reported a whopping $380 million loss for the 2020 financial year, in the latest sign of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the travel sector.

The airport released its financial results late Friday, showing revenues of $279.7 million — less than half what the facility took in in 2019.

Operating expenses remained over $366 million, just a tiny dip below the $403 million it cost to keep the airport open the year prior.

Read more: COVID-19: Halifax International Airport Authority records largest financial loss ever

The airport is a private non-profit and earns most of its revenues from passengers.

Just 7.3 million people passed through the terminal in 2020, down 72 per cent from the year before.

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In a statement Friday, the National Airlines Council of Canada called on the federal government to follow Britain’s lead, and begin to plan for a reopening of Canada’s airports.

Britain announced Friday that it would ease restrictions on leisure trips for a “green list” of 12 countries.

Read more: Saskatoon International Airport ‘decimated’ by COVID-19 pandemic

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have lost their jobs in the aviation and travel sector, and the scores of communities that have lost service, it is critical that the federal government now follow the U.K. example and work immediately with industry to develop a restart plan,” NACC president and CEO Mike McNaney said.

Jim Scott, managing partner at Royal Pacific Consulting Group and a former with Flair Airlines and Canada Jetlines, said easing travel restrictions would help, but that airports need more from the federal government.

“Instead of moving 170,000 passengers a day through Canadian airports, we’re moving 17,000. What’s happened is the airlines and also the airports just don’t have the revenue it takes to offer the quality of service they need to stay open,” he said.

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

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“They need a plan from the government to deal with the fact it’s been over a year now that they’ve been dealing with less than 20 per cent of the revenue they normally achieve.”

Scott said airports will need some kind of program to help them make long-term plans about how to return to service, bring employees back, service debts and maintain essential services such as firefighters and runway maintenance.

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