It’s been a while since Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport has seen any significant foot traffic.
In March of 2020, the city’s only air carrier, Air Canada, cancelled service to the Limestone City.
And other than a short stint with charter company Fly GTA, there haven’t been many planes flying out of Kingston’s airport.
“It’s had a huge impact on the airport since that time,” airport manager Aron Winterstein said. “We haven’t had scheduled service and it’s been hard.”
Air Canada left just as the pandemic was beginning.
And Winterstein says it’s because of the pandemic that finding a new partner has taken so long.
“As COVID evolves, it’s very volatile for the air carriers. And there’s not a lot of appetite for taking risk,” Winterstein said. “So there’s got to be some certainty in the path going forward.”
The lack of a commercial carrier has also affected the number of people employed at the airport. Prior to Air Canada leaving, there were 25 full-time positions; now that number has shrunk to only two.
It’s not just the airport that’s taken a hit — the city’s economy has as well.
But due to COVID-19, just how much is hard to say.
“So while transportation via air certainly has come to a halt, that’s seen through all the regional airports, as well as across Canada and around the world,” Director of business development with the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, Shelley Hirstwood said.
But discussions with new carriers are taking place, and Winterstein says he’s confident with how they’re going.
“Kingston has a great market. We will get a service back. It’s a matter of when and not if,” Winterstein said.
He adds that commercial service will likely be back in time for next summer.