Passenger fees to rise $10 per ticket at Regina airport

A plane sits ready to depart at Regina International Airport. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

With its airport in “recovery mode” as traffic levels recover from pandemic lows, Regina Airport Authority (RAA) is raising some of the fees it charges passengers and airlines.

Beginning April 1, RAA’s “passenger facility fee” will increase from $20 to $30.

These fees are paid to the airline and remitted to RAA. They’re applied to every departing ticket for a trip initiating at the airport and travelling out-of-province. For intra-provincial flights the fee will remain at $5.

RAA leadership said the increase is directly related to fund capital investments, but added that losses incurred during the pandemic, rising interest rates and inflation are also affecting finances.

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“Our airport is about to undertake a significant investment in our main runway through an overlay project valued at about $26.7 million,” said RAA president and CEO James Bogusz.

“This project is half funded by the federal government but the airport authority will have to raise its own half. In totality the airport’s debt will be set at around $50 million based on previous investments from past years. Now we’re in recovery mode. To afford all of this we have to increase our fee.”

The overlay project will include new paving, an updated lighting system and drainage improvements.

This is first increase to the passenger fee since 2012, Bogusz says.

RAA is also increasing its landing and general terminal fees by five per cent.

“The Regina airport is one of the lowest cost airports in the entire country for an airline to land at,” Bogusz said, adding, “the airlines have been supportive of this change”.

“During the pandemic and in the last five years we have not raised our fees a single dollar. We really needed the fee increase, but because we wanted to see airlines come back to our city, we held the line. We took the hard road. We had to reduce our staff, defer capital projects and reduce our expenses.”

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Speaking to Global News Thursday morning, Bogusz said the strategy is paying off.

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He said in December the airport saw 74 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger levels, and that airline capacity recovered to almost 92 per cent of pre-pandemic levels — the biggest rebounds yet.

Bogusz said December 2021 saw just 30 per cent pre-pandemic passenger levels.

“We outperformed almost every other Canadian city of our size and that’s because our fees have remained low but also the great work of our partner organizations in the city bringing in great events.”

Brick + Mortar, a new vendor at Regina International Airport, has a focus on locally created products. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

Bogusz’ optimism comes despite airlines recently announcing cancellations of services out of Regina, highlighting WestJet’s recently-announced plans to increase service to Calgary.

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“If you look at WestJet into February and March, we haven’t seen these types of low prices almost through the entire pandemic,” he said.

“Many of their flights currently are available for sale between Regina and Calgary between $200 and $250. I see some in the high $100s. This is without Air Canada competing on the same route.”

Brick + Mortar Owner Janis Procyk says it’s exciting to see airport traffic rebound. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

Other changes at the airport include a new restaurant, Brioche Dorée, on the main floor and the opening of a new storefront, Brick + Mortar, near the departures desks.

Brick + Mortar owner Janis Procyk said the increase in traffic the airport is seeing is “a big relief”.

“Being in a place where things are starting to return to normal is a really positive and uplifting thing,” she said.

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“It’s great to have some happier things and some return to what we used to know.”

Skyxe Saskatoon Airport, meanwhile, charges an “Airport Improvement Fee” which can only be used for capital investment. A spokesperson says the organization is not planning to raise the $23.00 fee in 2023.

“The SAA completed a significant capital program directly prior to the 2020 pandemic, including a major terminal renovation, curbside and parking re-development, check-in hall renovation, baggage handling system replacement, and repair work to our secondary runway,” added Business Development and Service Quality vice-president CJ Dushinski.

“As we begin planning for the next phase of major capital investments, including arrivals hall renovation and ground-side road infrastructure, we will continue to evaluate any potential increases needed for our AIF in the future.”

Its aviation fees, paid by airlines and other aircraft operators, will also rise by five per cent. The increase is effective March 1, 2023.


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