Charlottetown Airport activity rebounding amid ease of restrictions, new routes

From CBC News – link to source story

August revenue, however, still far from 2019 levels

Arturo Chang · CBC News · Posted: August 10, 2021

More than 253,000 visitors have come to the Island since travel restrictions were eased on June 27. (P.E.I. government)

The Charlottetown Airport is looking a bit livelier these days, with the easing of provincial travel restrictions coinciding with the launching of new flight routes to the city.

Charlottetown Airport Authority CEO Doug Newson said the airport is buzzing with activity once again after what’s been a tough year and a half for the travel industry due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“You come to the airport today and you see the parking lots of cars, lots of greeters, a lot of employees here back at the airport that we haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

“So it’s been very encouraging and it’s quite a change from what we’ve been experiencing.”

Airlines Flair and PAL have begun scheduled service to YYG in recent weeks, while WestJet launched a new non-stop route between the city and Calgary.

In addition to this, the federal government announced Tuesday the airport will receive $3.1 million in funding to help maintain current operations and to create or re-establish regional flight routes.

Tourism boom

Meanwhile, the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) says there’s been a big increase in bookings and inquiries from people looking to visit the province. And on Tuesday, P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said more than 253,000 visitors have come to the Island since restrictions were eased on June 27.

The government has received over 301,000 P.E.I. Pass applications during the same period.

TIAPEI chief executive officer Corryn Clemence said the uptick could catch many businesses in the tourism industry off-guard. The situation could be aggravated now that Americans are being allowed into the country for non-essential travel. 

“It really has been a challenge,” Clemence said. “We know some of our operators probably didn’t hire as many as early as they normally would because of the restrictions and border closures. So I think we’re seeing a bit of scrambling right now, trying to get staffing in place.”

Revenue at the airport isn’t at pre-COVID levels — Newson said income so far in the month of August has been 40 to 50 per cent what it was during the same period in 2019.

“It’s really the tip of the iceberg in terms of recovery,” he said. “But at least it’s going in the right direction.”