Passenger Levels Continue To Concern Airport Development Corporation

From Sault Online – link to source story

By Content Team -March 8, 2021

Passenger traffic in February was down 93.0% with the fiscal year to date (April to February) drop coming in at 90.1%.  The past ten months of traffic levels are as follows:

MonthPassengersChange from Previous Year
April – June572-98.89%
July – September8,080-85.70%
October – December7,675-85.52%

The Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation is unique in the country being one of only two regional airports with no municipal or regional government affiliation; it is a private not for profit corporation that owns and operates the Sault Ste. Marie Airport.  As such the SSMADC must self-fund all operational and capital costs with user fees, leases, and customer pay items such as car park and AIF (Airport Improvement Fee).

Aircraft traffic movements were also greatly reduced during the pandemic. The latest available data covers April 2020 through to December 2020 with the month of December setting a record for aircraft movements for that month in the past 20 years. The table below outlines levels for the past nine months:

MonthAircraft MovementsChange from Previous Year

Bearskin Airlines is operating up to 2 flights Sunday and up to 4 daily flights Monday to Friday.  Air Canada Express is offering up to one daily flight.  This continues to be a major decrease in flight options compared to March of 2020 when Air Canada was flying 4 daily flights, Porter had up to 2 daily flights, Bearskin was flying up to 7 daily flights, and Sunwing was providing once weekly service.

Terry Bos President and CEO of the SSMADC stated “As can be seen by the strong December aircraft movements, there is clear evidence that an Air Traffic Control Tower is needed in Sault Ste. Marie to support the major growth upcoming in the Sault College Flight Training Program.  Unfortunately, for a regional sized airport it is passenger traffic that pays the bills, and those numbers are regressing, amplifying the continued need for government support not only financially but to provide a safe return to passenger traffic in the country.”