QUÉBEC, April 28, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ -Today, after two years of a global pandemic that brought its momentum to a screeching halt, Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) unveiled its 2021 results, which show encouraging indicators of recovery. All signs are pointing towards a quick rebound.
Bouncing forward with determination
If there is one indicator that does not lie, it is passenger traffic, and in 2021, the passengers clearly bucked the forecasted trends. At the beginning of the year, as border restrictions multiplied, YQB anticipated a historic drop in passenger traffic. Far from the 1.8 million passengers it saw in 2019 and the 535,000 that visited in 2020, the airport expected to receive as few as 100,000 people for this second year of the pandemic. Thanks to intense work to speed up the recovery, the airport ended up receiving three times more passengers than expected—353,203—thus limiting its losses to $29.6 million. For 2022, forecasts suggest that the airport could see between 700,000 and 1,000,000 passengers.
Throughout 2021, there were numerous positive announcements about routes to Québec City. These were not a matter of luck, but rather the outcome of ongoing collaboration among YQB, the airlines, and all those with a stake in the economic and touristic development of the greater Québec City area. For the summer of 2022, YQB is showing an excellent recovery rate for its seat offerings. With the newly announced flights, the airlines are offering the same number of seats as in 2019.
“Carriers are sending a clear signal: Québec City is worth it. And passengers from the area can also play their part simply by showing up! Now that we can start travelling again, it is essential that people from the greater Québec City area fly out of YQB. This is the only way to show our airlines that they’re right to trust us. In the meantime, our teams are continuing to work hard to ensure the success of all of our new routes. We are ready to bounce forward with determination, confidence, and a strong commitment to our employees, our community, and our region,” said Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB.
Bouncing forward with confidence
Until we have fully recovered, YQB must do everything it can to keep its head above water. That is why, in 2021, YQB concluded a financing agreement allowing it to take on $150 million in debt from private financial institutions. This amount is deemed sufficient to ensure the delivery of essential services and carry out the necessary infrastructure projects until it returns to profitability.
By 2024–2025, YQB is expected to see the same traffic levels as in 2019. However, losses may reach $100 million by the time the company returns to profitability.
It is important to remember that right from the start of the pandemic, when revenues were clearly dwindling, all sources of expenses were scrutinized. The goal was to continue providing an essential service to the public 24/7 by limiting cumulative losses.
Despite the challenges it faced, the organization made the strategic choice not to increase airport improvement fees and general aviation fees in 2022, for the fifth consecutive year. Although these decisions will have an impact on the bottom line, the airport authority determined that they would promote recovery.
In addition, there is an ambitious recovery plan underway to diversify YQB’s revenues and enable the organization to further play its role as an economic driver for the region.
Bouncing forward as a team
Like the good news announced throughout the past year, the organization’s future success will depend on the continued collaboration of governments and regional partners.
To that end, the federal government has announced that it will provide nearly $17 million in funding to support YQB’s recovery. For its part, the Québec government, through the Ministry of Tourism, has supported YQB to the tune of $2 million. These funds are intended to support the development of direct international routes to Québec City.
In addition to the financial support from government sources, the business community has been overwhelmingly supportive of the airport’s goals; the airport’s recovery plan has received 94% support from the greater Québec City area business community. This mark of confidence encourages the team to work even harder to remain a lever for growth for the region.
“We were faced with great challenges in 2021. Yet week after week, the teams at YQB adapted and steadily pursued their goal of multiplying successes so that the organization would be able to bounce forward as soon as possible,” said André Boulanger, Chairman of the YQB Board of Directors. “As we look back, we can see that the hard work of our teams and partners has brought a lot of good news to the people of the greater Québec City area. I would like to thank all YQB’s employees, its management team, and its directors for their contributions during the ups and downs of this eventful year. As the recovery takes shape, and as air traffic gradually picks up, I truly believe that we have made all the necessary efforts to ensure that YQB emerges from this pandemic on the best possible footing,” he concluded.
- 353,203 passengers came through YQB in 2021—three times more than the expected 100,000 passengers
- YQB hopes to see 1 million passengers in 2022
- Return to 2019 passenger traffic levels (1.8 million) expected in 2024 or 2025
- Deficit of $29.6 million in 2021, and estimated losses of approximately $100 million by the time profitability is restored
- Enhanced service for summer 2022:
- New routes to Europe: London and Paris
- New carrier: Air France
- New flights to Western Canada: Calgary and Vancouver
- Return of U.S. carriers: American Airlines and United
- Continuation of flights to sun destinations: Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and Varadero
- Opening of the Blaxton Aéroport de Québec bar-restaurant and the Brûlerie Rousseau café, by Nourcy, planned for this summer
About Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB)
YQB is managed by Aéroport de Québec Inc., a non-profit, non-share capital corporation, responsible for the airport’s management, operation, maintenance, and development since November 1, 2000. Around a dozen carriers offer flights from YQB to destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe, and daily flights to the main hubs in eastern North America.