Passenger totals up at Sault airport as charter air service returns

From CTV News – link to source story

Mike McDonald, CTV News Northern Ontario Videojournalist | Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sault Ste. Marie Airport

Terry Bos, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, credits the addition of a second flight by Air Canada between the Sault and Toronto. He’s also optimistic about the return of charter air service to the airport, with private airline “Shaire” setting up shop there. Aug.15/21 (Mike McDonald/CTV News Northern Ontario)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Officials at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport are seeing a significant increase in passenger totals. And for the first time in decades, a charter air service is now operating out of the airport.

Terry Bos, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, says passenger totals for July are the highest they’ve been in quite some time.

“(It) was a 16 month high for us with about 4,250 passengers,” says Bos. “It’s double what we did in August of last year but it’s still down about 78 per cent from where we were before the pandemic started. But certainly it’s a step in the right direction to see some growth.”

Bos credits the addition of a second flight by Air Canada between the Sault and Toronto. He’s also optimistic about the return of charter air service to the airport, with private airline “Shaire” setting up shop there.

“For aircraft charter, we haven’t had one based here at the airport for probably 20 years,” he says. “It’s something we’ve been sorely missing.”

Richard Biemann, co-founder of Shaire, says he and his business partners launched the charter airline to address a service gap.

“We’re well serviced here with Air Canada and Porter direct Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto – (but) there’s a big gap in the market going anywhere else,” says Biemann.

“That can be anywhere in the U.S. being a border town, there’s a gap in the market going north and that’s been a bit of a disadvantage for businesses in Sault Ste. Marie.”

Biemman says travellers flying with Shaire can expect a less hectic experience compared with a traditional commercial flight.

“It’s a really different experience in aviation, it’s a little more romantic,” he says. “We’re not necessarily competing in the market of the cheapest fare Sault to Toronto – that’s very well serviced. We’re competing basically with private charters that go everywhere else.”

Biemann says since launching in July, demand has been high among business travellers in and around the Sault. He says Shaire is looking to offer flights into the U.S. once the company receives regulatory approval.