Winnipeg airport increasing ticket fee to help make up revenue lost due to COVID-19

News from CBC News – link to story

Airport has fewer than 100 people fly through some days, spokesperson says

CBC News · Posted: Jun 01, 2020

The Winnipeg Airports Authority is increasing its airport infrastructure fee, which is applied to commercial airline tickets, to make up for falling revenues caused by COVID-19. (CBC)

Come September, it’s going to be slightly more expensive to fly through the Winnipeg airport. 

The Winnipeg Airports Authority is increasing its airport improvement fee $13, from $25 to $38. 

The fees help pay for maintaining airport infrastructure and capital project costs at the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. 

The fees don’t go toward operating costs; they pay for the infrastructure needed to keep the airport open and operating, said Tyler MacAfee, vice-president of communications for the airports authority.

Close to 95 per cent of the airport’s revenue is directly linked to air traffic, which has nearly ground to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the airport had to find a way to make up the difference, MacAfee said. 

Air traffic at the airport has dropped about 90 per cent, going from about 12,500 passengers each day to fewer than 100 some days, he said.

“It’s going to take a long time for that to come back,” he said. 

“We don’t want to have to charge additional fees. That’s not the desire in this, but we have to find a way to make sure that we remain sustainable.”

Federal government changes course, backs airport on Polo Park development plan

News from CBC News – link to story

Move by Ottawa likely sends massive residential development plan to provincial municipal board

Sean Kavanagh · CBC News · Posted: May 28, 2020

Communication from Transport Canada hours before Friday’s council meeting appears to contradict a statement it made earlier in May. (Cadillac Fairview)

A letter from Transport Canada to the City of Winnipeg may set back a residential development plan for the Polo Park area by months or even years and is a major victory for the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

It could potentially scuttle the development entirely. 

Late Thursday, the city’s legal department sent city councillors a memo from Transport Canada confirming the Winnipeg Airports Authority “is fully authorized by Transport Canada to speak to local issues affecting the airport.”

The letter appears to contradict a statement from Transport Canada it provided to CBC News earlier this month saying the authority “cannot speak on the government of Canada’s behalf.” 

The WAA has opposed a proposed change to what is known as the Airport Vicinity Protection Area Secondary Plan — a planning framework that restricts development around the airport in order to limit residential noise complaints.

Cadillac Fairview and Shindico Reality Inc. have proposed to build residential units around the Polo Park mall — a plan worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in construction and economic activity.

The WAA has objected to the development, believing it could threaten its 24-7 takeoff and landing status because of the noise complaints.

With mere hours before city council was set to vote on changing the zoning to allow the development, the city’s legal department received the communication from Transport Canada.

“Under the ground lease, Transport Canada has delegated to WAA the authority and responsibility to file an objection to a proposed change to the AVPA and to make representations before the provincial municipal board to voice its concern regarding the proposed land use plan and the potential impact on airport operations,” wrote Sheri Currie, Transport Canada’s regional director general.

The city’s legal department has advised councillors the letter from the federal government “constitutes a valid objection” from the WAA and recommends city council hold the matter over indefinitely and allow it to be heard by the provincial municipal board.

Winnipeg Airports Authority says development could impair its 24-7 takeoff and landing status. (CBC)

The late intervention by the federal government has exasperated the developers, who believed a majority of councillors were prepared to approve the zoning changes and allow the project.

“We believe that the city heard the evidence presented by Cadillac Fairview and by the airport, weighed those arguments, and the airport lost on the merits … we are also disappointed the federal government has flip-flopped and decided retroactively to say the WAA is in effect the voice of the federal government. We continue to believe that is fundamentally wrong,” wrote Shindico general counsel Justin Zaranowski.

CBC News had canvassed most of the councillors earlier this month and it appeared there were enough votes to change the zoning and allow the project to start.

Moving the plan to the municipal board could take more than a year.

The WAA had promised to do a noise study as early as 2016 but it was never completed. Economic Development Winnipeg made a similar promise to councillors in late 2019, but it has not materialized either.

A spokesperson for the WAA says “a proper planning process ensures Winnipeg can avoid the friction caused by incompatible residential development and airport operations seen in other cities across Canada and around the world,” and promised to work with all levels of government and stakeholders.

“Since 1997, WAA has been a partner to the city and province on land-use decisions that impact the airport and we want to continue a positive relationship,” wrote WAA vice-president Tyler MacAfee.

400 people to be laid off at Boeing in Winnipeg in coming weeks

From CBC News – link to story

Cuts make up about one-quarter of the aerospace company’s workforce in Winnipeg

Caitlyn Gowriluk · CBC News · Posted: May 24, 2020

Boeing employs around 1,600 people in Winnipeg, according to the aerospace company’s website. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

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Boeing will lay off around 400 employees in Winnipeg over the next few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson for the aerospace company says.

Employees at the company were told about the cuts on Friday, spokesperson Jessica Kowal said in a statement emailed to CBC News.

“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing previously announced we would adjust the size of our company to reflect new market realities through a combination of voluntary layoffs, natural turnover and involuntary layoffs,” the statement said.

Kowal said the brunt of the cuts at Boeing are being made “in areas most exposed to the commercial aviation market as well as our corporate functions.” She said Boeing’s Winnipeg site mainly produces components for the company’s commercial planes.

The cuts make up about one-quarter of the aerospace company’s workforce in Winnipeg. According to Boeing’s website, the company has around 1,600 employees in the city.

Traffic plummets, signs replace travellers at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport

News from Global News – link to story and VIDEO

BY WILL REIMER GLOBAL NEWS ~ Posted May 13, 2020

Travellers passing through Winnipeg Richardson International Airport will notice more than a few changes as public health orders grind all but the most essential travel to a halt.

“I can say that you can expect to arrive and the airport will be significantly quieter than you would be used to seeing,” said Jen Cameron, communications manager for the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA).

“Typically we see 12,300 passengers each day at the airport, and right now we’re seeing less than 200 a day departing … for flights I think we’re seeing between eight to 10 at this time.”

Numbers released by the WAA at the end of April show a continuation of traffic volumes from the end of 2019 into 2020. That, however, changed dramatically in March as the seriousness of COVID-19 became apparent and was subsequently declared a pandemic.

Passenger traffic dropped 20 per cent in the first week of March, and by the last week bottomed out around 95 per cent lower than the same time period the year before. It was an “unheard of low,” according to the WAA.

Despite an advisory against non-essential travel and a mandatory 14-day isolation period for travellers entering Manitoba (and Canada altogether), though, some people are still getting on planes. The experience is just a little different.

“Currently there is a requirement for all travellers to wear non-medical masks or face coverings, and we’re promoting social distancing from the moment travellers walk into the building,” Cameron says.

That includes plenty of signage and audio notifications, informing people not only of the need to keep separate from one another, but also of the latest public health orders, prevention strategies, symptoms, relevant contact information and other protocols.

Regulars to Winnipeg’s airport will also notice the iconic “Hug Rug” at the arrivals area has vanished.

With traffic down substantially, the WAA says certain areas of the terminal have been closed off to cut down on heating and maintenance costs, some kiosks are kept off to minimize electricity consumption, and thermostats on boarding bridges have been turned down.

A mutually agreed-upon ban on cross border travel between Canada and the United States is set to expire on May 21. It’s unclear if it will be extended once more.

WestJet Update: 10 May • Schedule to 4 July 2020

From Westjet – 10 May 2020

WESTJET UPDATES SCHEDULE FROM JUNE 5 THROUGH JULY 4, 2020 

WestJet has updated its schedule from June 5 through to July 4, 2020 to address significantly reduced guest demand for air travel while continuing to keep critical economic lifelines open for essential travel and cargo. At this time, WestJet is also extending its temporary transborder and international route suspensions through June 25, 2020. Guests with travel booked after June 5 through July 4, will be proactively notified of their options. Full schedule details are available on westjet.com

It is through the hard work and dedication of teams across WestJet that we continue to provide safe, on-time air travel throughout Canada. We thank all WestJetters and our airport partners for their support during this time. For information on WestJet’s COVID-19 response including health, safety and cleaning protocols, visit the WestJet COVID-19 site here

Domestic route suspensions from June 5 through July 4, 2020 

Market Previous frequency 
Vancouver – Nanaimo 2x daily 
Vancouver – Comox 1x daily 
Vancouver – Regina 4x weekly 
Vancouver – Saskatoon 1x daily 
Vancouver – Winnipeg 3x daily 
Vancouver – Fort St. John 1x daily 
Vancouver – Cranbrook 1x daily 
Vancouver – Ottawa 2x daily 
Vancouver – Montreal 6 to 13x weekly 
Vancouver – Halifax 6x weekly 
Kelowna – Victoria 12x weekly 
Calgary – Prince George 1x daily 
Calgary – Ottawa 2x daily 
Calgary – Montreal 2x daily 
Calgary – London, ON 1 to 2x daily 
Calgary – Halifax 3x daily 
Calgary – St. John’s 1x daily 
Edmonton – Comox 8x weekly 
Edmonton – Victoria 20x weekly 
Edmonton – Kelowna 7x daily 
Edmonton – Grande Prairie 13x weekly 
Edmonton – Yellowknife 1x daily 
Edmonton – Saskatoon 3x daily 
Edmonton – Regina 3x daily 
Edmonton – Winnipeg 20x weekly 
Edmonton – Ottawa 4x weekly 
Edmonton – Montreal 3x weekly 
Edmonton – Halifax 10x weekly 
Edmonton – St. John’s 4x weekly 
Winnipeg – Ottawa 1x daily 
Winnipeg – Regina 1x daily 
Winnipeg – Halifax 1x daily 
Toronto – Victoria 4x weekly 
Toronto – Regina 10x weekly 
Toronto – Saskatoon 12x weekly 
Halifax – Montreal 2x daily 

The following domestic markets will have a new seasonal start date: 

Market New start date 
Calgary – Quebec City 6-Jul-20 
Calgary – Charlottetown 5-Jul-20 
Winnipeg – Montreal 5-Jul-20 
Toronto – Kelowna 5-Jul-20 
Toronto – Sydney, NS 5-Jul-20 

WESTJET CARGO DELIVERS FLOWERS FOR MOTHER’S DAY

While we may be physically distancing, we know moms will still be feeling the love today. Over the last three weeks, WestJet Cargo has helped deliver 15 tonnes of flowers across Canada — just in time for Mother’s Day.

Federal government says Winnipeg Airports Authority can’t speak on its behalf

From CBC News – link to story

Statement from Transport Canada casts doubt on WAA’s ability to force Polo Park dispute to municipal board

CBC News · Posted: May 08, 2020 8:24 PM CT | Last Updated: May 8

Transport Canada says the Winnipeg Airports Authority ‘is not an agent of the Crown.’ (John Einarson/CBC)

Transport Canada says the Winnipeg Airports Authority “cannot speak on the government of Canada’s behalf” in a dispute between the airport and developers who want to build residential housing at Polo Park mall.

That appears to be a contradiction from assertions the airports authority made to Winnipeg’s city council earlier this week.

The controversy is centred on changing a planning framework known as the Airport Vicinity Protection Area, which restricts residential development around the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

It pits the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars in development versus the 24-hour-a-day takeoff and landing status at the airport and its valuable cargo business.

Cadillac Fairview, the owner of CF Polo Park, and Winnipeg’s Shindico Realty and Towers Realty Group, want to build apartment buildings around the mall.

On Tuesday, the WAA sent a letter to council asking for the matter to be referred to the provincial municipal board, invoking the name of the government of Canada in the request.

“In the name of the government of Canada, WAA objects to the proposed Bylaw No. 48/2019 to amend the Airport Vicinity Protection Area Secondary Plan Bylaw No. 6378/94 to redesignate from Area I to Area II the lands bounded by St. Matthews Avenue, Empress Street, Portage Avenue and St. James Street,” the WAA wrote in its letter.

Under the Winnipeg charter, such a referral can only be made by a municipality, the board of a planning district adjacent to the area, or the governments of Canada or Manitoba.

The move by the WAA prompted council to delay any decision on the matter for a month, as the city’s legal department asked for time to figure out if the federal government had actually given legal authority to the Winnipeg Airports Authority to make an objection to the proposed bylaw.

Developers call WAA’s efforts ‘delay tactics’ with no authority from the federal government. (John Einarson/CBC )

A statement to CBC News from Transport Canada says the “the government of Canada has not taken a position on the matter currently being disputed between the Winnipeg Airports Authority and the City of Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Airports Authority is not an agent of the Crown and, therefore, cannot speak on the government of Canada’s behalf concerning the City of Winnipeg’s proposed bylaw.”

A spokesperson for the WAA says it wasn’t “speaking” for the federal government, just making the request “in the name” of the government of Canada.

“WAA is not suggesting we are an agent of the Crown or that we speak on behalf of the government of Canada. As such, there is nothing of surprise in the letter from the government of Canada,” said the statement from the airports authority.

The WAA operates under a long-term ground lease with Transport Canada for the land at the airport.

The general counsel for Shindico Reality says the WAA’s moves are an attempt to stall the development without a legal basis to do it.

“We’re disappointed the airport chose to delay this process without having the authority to do so, and we look forward to this matter proceeding to council at the next meeting,” said Justin Zarnowski.

A spokesperson for mayor Brian Bowman said “our office will wait for an update from the public service before providing comment.”

Winnipeg Airport – Strong start to 2020 halted by COVID-19 Global Pandemic

From Winnipeg Airport Authority

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – April 28, 2020 – The first quarter of 2020 began with a continuation of the previous quarter’s performance until the point at which the global COVID-19 pandemic began to take its toll on the entire aviation industry.

In March, the initial spread and subsequent declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the travel climate in North America significantly. Passenger traffic dipped 20 per cent in the first week and continued to sharply fall to an unheard of low, down 95 per cent in the last week of the month as compared to the same period in 2019. The airport went from an average of over 12,000 arriving and departing passengers per day to less than 150 departing passengers in a matter of days, as governments announced border restrictions and airlines cancelled flights. This unprecedented situation resulted in a 19.27% drop in passenger traffic for the first quarter of 2020 versus the same period in 2019.

“Being prepared for disruption has been a priority for Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA), yet no one could have predicted the disproportionate impact of this particular crisis on our industry. Despite being in a strong financial position, our company has not been immune to these new realities,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority. “WAA is funded entirely through a user-pay model; our revenue is tied directly to how many people travel through the airport. While eliminating contractor costs and slashing capital budgets assist, our significant operating costs remain fixed. I am pleased to see the reaction of our team as we work with staff to find innovative ways of balancing the requirement to keep runways available for those who desperately need access to supply chains and the reality of plummeting revenues.”

Some of the steps already taken to reduce operating costs include closing off parts of the terminal in order to minimize heating and maintenance costs, turning down thermostats in or removing boarding bridges from service, and powering down kiosks to reduce electrical consumption while promoting physical distancing.

WAA has also provided audible notification and signage throughout the terminal to inform passengers of their responsibilities if travelling. This includes the recommendation to cancel all non-essential travel, the requirement under The Quarantine Act to self-isolate for 14 days if returning to the country, and to practice physical distancing while in the terminal. WAA has also increased the cleaning of high-touch areas in the terminal and added hand sanitizing stations in strategic locations.

Consolidated revenue for the first quarter of the year was $31.4 million, compared to $36.2 million for the first quarter in 2019. Earnings before interest, depreciation, and taxes were $13.4 million in 2020, versus $18.0 million for the same period in 2019.

Cargo traffic was strong in the first quarter of 2020, outperforming global trends. Total cargo landings at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport were up 5.02 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

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 working 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 2020, the ninth year in a row.

WestJet Update: 29 April – Domestic Schedule Changes to June 4

From WestJet

WESTJET MAKES FREQUENCY UPDATES TO ITS DOMESTIC FLIGHT SCHEDULE FROM MAY 5 THROUGH JUNE 4  

WestJet is making additional changes to its domestic flight schedule, from May 5 through June 4, 2020. These changes are required to address significantly reduced guest demand during the COVID-19 crisis.   

The following are frequency reductions from May 5-June 4, 2020:  

Market  Previous frequency  Updated frequency 
Calgary-Lethbridge 6x weekly 3x weekly 
Calgary-Medicine Hat 6x weekly 3x weekly 
Calgary-Cranbrook 6x weekly 3x weekly 
Winnipeg-Saskatoon 3x weekly 2x weekly 
Winnipeg-Thunder Bay 3x weekly 2x weekly 

The following city pairs have been temporarily removed from May 5-June 4, 2020:  

Market Previous frequency 
Halifax-Montreal 1x weekly 

These changes are in addition to the network updates announced on Monday, April 22, when the airline announced removing approximately 4,000 weekly flights or 600 daily flights. 

While some city pairings have been temporarily removed, we continue to serve the 38 Canadian airports to which we currently operate, ensuring that those with essential travel requirements can get where they need to be and that cargo goods like blood, medical products and food supplies can continue to flow.   

The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions. Bookings and full schedule details are available at westjet.com. All transborder and international routes remain suspended at this time through June 4, 2020.  

REPATRIATION FLIGHTS 

In collaboration with Government of Canada, WestJet has added flights to repatriate Canadians from Costa Rica to Toronto today and on May 2, along with a flight from Belize to Toronto on May 6. Seats are available for booking on westjet.com.  

Next scheduled repatriation flights: 

  • Today, April 29, 2020 from San José, Costa Rica (SJO) to Toronto 
  • May 2, 2020 from San José, Costa Rica (SJO) to Toronto 
  • May 6, 2020 from Belize (BZE) to Toronto  

WestJet Update: 20 April – Updates Domestic Flight Schedule

From WestJet

WESTJET UPDATES DOMESTIC FLIGHT SCHEDULE FROM MAY 5 THROUGH JUNE 4  

WestJet is making changes to its domestic flight schedule, removing approximately 4,000 weekly flights or 600 daily flights from May 5 through June 4, 2020. These changes are required to address significantly reduced guest demand during the COVID-19 crisis.   

While some city pairings have been temporarily removed, we continue to serve the 38 Canadian airports to which we currently operate, ensuring that those with essential travel requirements can get where they need to be and that cargo goods like blood, medical products and food supplies can continue to flow.   

The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions. Bookings and full schedule details are available at westjet.com. All transborder and international routes remain suspended at this time through June 4, 2020.   

For guests with travel booked after May 5 through June 4, we are proactively notifying them of their options.  

The following city pairs have been temporarily removed from May 5-June 4, 2020:  

Market  Previous frequency  
Vancouver – Nanaimo  2x daily  
Vancouver – Comox  1x daily  
Vancouver – Regina  4x weekly  
Vancouver – Saskatoon  5x weekly  
Vancouver – Winnipeg  3x daily  
Vancouver – Fort St. John  1x daily  
Vancouver – Cranbrook  1x daily  
Vancouver – Ottawa  1x daily  
Vancouver – Montreal  6x weekly  
Kelowna – Victoria  12x weekly  
Calgary – Prince George  1x daily  
Calgary – Ottawa  2x daily  
Calgary – Montreal  13x weekly  
Calgary – London, ON  1x daily  
Calgary – Halifax  17x weekly  
Edmonton – Comox  6x weekly  
Edmonton – Victoria  20x weekly  
Edmonton – Kelowna  7x daily  
Edmonton – Grande Prairie  13x weekly  
Edmonton – Yellowknife  1x daily  
Edmonton – Saskatoon  3x daily  
Edmonton – Regina  3x daily  
Edmonton – Winnipeg  20x weekly  
Edmonton – Ottawa  2x weekly  
Edmonton – Halifax  5x weekly  
Winnipeg – Ottawa  1x daily  
Winnipeg – Regina  1x daily  
Winnipeg – Halifax  1x daily  
Toronto – Victoria  4x weekly  
Toronto – Edmonton  5 to 7x daily  
Toronto – Regina  10x weekly  
Toronto – Saskatoon  12x weekly  

REPATRIATION FLIGHT SCHEDULE 

WestJet has the following international repatriation flights scheduled: 

  • April 20, 2020 from Georgetown (GEO), Guyana to Toronto (YYZ)  
    Departs 3:30 p.m. (local) arrives 9:54 p.m.  
  • April 20, 2020 from Grand Cayman (GCM) to Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) to Toronto (YYZ) 
    Departs 12:00 p.m., 3:13 p.m. (local), arrives 6:16 p.m. 
  • April 23, 2020 from Guatemala City, Guatamala (GUA) to Toronto (YYZ) 

FLEXIBLE CHANGE/CANCEL POLICY   

  • More details on our policies are available here

AFFECTED FLIGHTS – visit the blog (updated) 

Winnipeg airport honours healthcare workers

News from Global News – link to story

BY SAM THOMPSON GLOBAL NEWS ~ Posted April 16, 2020

James A. Richardson International Airport.
 James A. Richardson International Airport. Elisha Dacey/Global News

Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport saluted the province’s front-line healthcare workers in a unique way Wednesday afternoon.

The airport held a water cannon salute — something it said is usually reserved to recognize heroes — to thank healthcare workers for their dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a sign of respect, honour and gratitude,” the airport said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.Winnipeg Airport@YWGairport

It’s a sign of respect, honour and gratitude. An airport tradition generally reserved for heroes.

That’s why #YWG couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you to our healthcare and frontline workers than with a water cannon salute.

Thank you.

Embedded video

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.