Winnipeg Airports Authority secures $100M bond as passenger traffic, revenue continue dropping

Passenger traffic at the Winnipeg airport continued a downward spiral in the first quarter of 2021, as travel restrictions show no signs of abating, and the government made other moves impacting air travel.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) says passenger traffic for the first three months of 2021 was down 88.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, just prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the first quarter was 25.3 per cent lower than the fourth quarter of 2020.

“This decline is partly due to the federal government’s decision in February to mandate all international flights, including previously exempt flights from the U.S. and sun destinations, to land at only four Canadian airports, not including Winnipeg Richardson International Airport,” a press release from the WAA reads, adding the extension of the provincial 14-day self-isolation requirement further suppressed traffic.

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Read more: Devastating 2020 for Winnipeg airport as passenger numbers hit near 50-year low

First quarter revenue came in at $10.9 million, compared to $31.3 million for the first quarter of 2020.

The WAA says it was forced to secure a $100 million bond to keep things afloat “due to continued losses and minimal government aid for the airport to date.”

“The airport continues 24/7 operations in support of our community, including vaccine shipments, despite revenue losses due to travel restrictions,” Barry Rempel, WAA president and CEO says in the release.

“Sustaining operations to ensure Manitoba’s competitive future requires targeted government support and a clear plan to immediately return international service to the market.”

Read more: Winnipeg airport projects $45-million deficit this year, calls for government help

However, the WAA notes operations are being buoyed by a diverse business model, since the number of cargo planes landing at the airport climbed 7.5 per cent in Q1, compared to the same period last year.

The WAA concludes on an optimistic note, saying Flair Airlines and Swoop are planning to return service to Winnipeg in the second quarter, and WestJet is going to begin offering direct service to Victoria.

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