WINNIPEG, Manitoba – April 29, 2021 – As Winnipeg Airports Authority continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization updated the community earlier today during its virtual Annual Public Meeting on how the global health crisis will impact the future of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.
2020 started off well with passenger volumes in the first two months of the year exceeding forecasts and the airport providing direct access to 43 destinations across North America. In March, the air travel industry immediately began to feel the impacts of the pandemic as borders closed, airlines reduced service and non-essential travel advisories came into effect.
Winnipeg Richardson International Airport witnessed passenger traffic plummet 95 per cent almost overnight. The year finished with a total of 1.3 million passengers travelling through the airport, the lowest since 1971, compared to 4.5 million in 2019. By the end of December, just 15 routes remained out of Winnipeg with service to in-demand destinations completely cut.
“The impact of the pandemic will be generational,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of WAA. “It will take years to rebuild routes and get back to a place where we can think about facilities required by future growth. We are continuing to provide a safe environment for essential travel today but will need government support to rebuild our community’s connectivity and get Canadians moving once the country is ready to re-open.”
The Government of Canada provided support in the form of rent relief and wage subsidy programs, however, it fell short of the sector-specific support seen in other countries. WAA continues advocating for the return of the rights to receive international flights in our community while seeking to stimulate travel by leveraging vaccination levels and increased testing capabilities.
WAA’s diversified model, including the benefits of being well placed in the emerging cargo environment, positioned the company well in helping to offset some of the impact of reduced passenger travel. WASCO and Airport City Winnipeg helped keep the airport competitive and financially secure by exploring new opportunities both in Winnipeg and beyond.
“We’ve experienced some successes in a difficult environment and we’re not done yet,” said Rempel.“What has been accomplished this past year could not have been done without everyone working together, prioritizing public health and safety above all else. WAA remains the steady hand on the stick, navigating the crisis and living our values in support of our why – serving our community.”
A recording of WAA’s Annual Public Meeting can be viewed on our YouTube channel.
WAA’s Annual Report for 2020 can be found on the Publications & Stats section of our website.
About Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.
Winnipeg Airports Authority serves the community by leading transportation innovation and growth. As a non-share capital corporation, all net revenue is reinvested back into delivering on our mission of providing excellent airport services and facilities in a fiscally prudent manner. WAA does this through a group of companies that work together toward a common vision. Airport operations support over 18,500 jobs in the community and generate $4.3 billion in economic impact. WAA is proud to be recognized as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers for 2021, the tenth year in a row.