Canadian airlines return to Puerto Vallarta after 4-month hiatus

From Mexico Daily News – link to source story

Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are looking forward to the Canadians coming back. Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are looking forward to the Canadians coming back.

Canadian airlines return to Puerto Vallarta after 4-month hiatus

One airline has already reactivated flights, and three more have confirmed dates

Published on Thursday, June 17, 2021

Canadian airlines are reactivating flights to Puerto Vallarta after a four-month suspension.

Westjet reinitiated its flights to the Jalisco beach destination on June 5, and Air Canada will be next with the reopening of its Vancouver route on August 1.

Low cost airline Swoop plans to restart its Hamilton and Edmonton flights October 5, and its Abbotsford and Toronto routes on November 3. It will also inaugurate a new route from Winnipeg on November 4.

Transat will relaunch flights from Toronto and Montreal in November.

Sunwing is still yet to inform clients of its plans to reopen, but has previously announced it hopes to reestablish its Mexico routes in December.

Marc Murphy, lead of the Riviera Nayarit Visitors and Conventions Office, said Canadians would be happy for the change of climate. “Each year, thousands of Canadians travel to this region to escape the intense winter cold and find an enviable climate, the most beautiful beaches … and a great quality hotel offering,” he said.

With reports from Reportur

Flair Airlines Begins Service to Ottawa

The fast-growing ULCC is adding service to 8 destinations from Ottawa

EDMONTON, Alberta, June 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC), continues its growth with the addition of service to Ottawa International Airport (IATA: YOW) in Ontario starting today. The ULCC is adding low fare flights between Ottawa and eight Canadian cities.

Ottawa flights in June will provide non-stop service to Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Calgary. In August, the schedule grows with the addition of service to Halifax, Kelowna and Abbotsford.

“We are delighted to start operations at our newest base in Ottawa,” says Garth Lund, Chief Commercial Officer. “Just in time for summer, we are bringing affordable travel options with one way fares as low as $49 on several routes. By August, we will have two aircraft based in Ottawa and provide non-stop, low fares to eight cities while creating more than 70 jobs in the community.”

Ottawa is among several new destinations Flair is adding to its network as the airline grows to serve 19 Canadian cities. Flair’s first of 13 new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft started passenger service on June 10 and more of the new aircraft are joining the fleet throughout 2021.

Listed below are examples of one-way base fares currently available. All base fares include taxes and fees, and there are limited seats and limited availability.

  • Ottawa to Halifax: $49 one way, travel on October 14, 2021
  • Ottawa to Abbotsford: $59 one way, travel on September 9, 2021
  • Ottawa to Toronto: $49 one way, travel on July 7, 2021
  • Ottawa to Winnipeg: $49 one way, travel on October 27, 2021
  • Ottawa to Edmonton: $49 one way, travel on September 10, 2021
  • Ottawa to Calgary: $49 one way, travel on November 11, 2021
  • Ottawa to Vancouver: $59 one way, travel on October 26, 2021
  • Ottawa to Kelowna: $59 one way, travel on October 23, 2021

About Flair Airlines

Flair Airlines is Canada’s only independent Ultra Low-Cost Carrier (ULCC) and is on a mission to liberate the lives of Canadians by providing affordable air travel that connects them to the people and experiences they love. With an expanding fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, Flair is growing to serve 19 cities across Canada. For more information, please visit

Swoop Responds to Growing Demand for Ultra-Low-Cost Travel

Airline announces fleet expansion and winter flying as new daily bookings return to pre-pandemic levels

CALGARY, AB, June 10, 2021 /CNW/ – Swoop, Canada’s leading ultra-low-cost carrier, today released its expanded winter schedule including increased non-stop domestic service and the re-introduction of flights to the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Following a sustained pattern of new daily bookings on par with pre-pandemic levels, the airline also announced it will proceed with planned fleet growth, inducting its tenth Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft into service this winter.  

The first Canadian airline to fully re-enter its entire fleet into service, Swoop will operate all nine of its aircraft domestically during peak summer. The airline’s winter schedule will provide travellers with ultra-low-cost flights across Canada, as well as to sun and fun destinations including Montego Bay in Jamaica, Las Vegas and Mesa/Phoenix in the U.S., and Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán in Mexico.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for travel this summer, most especially in provinces where vaccination and re-opening plans are on track and clearly outlined,” said Charles Duncan, President of Swoop. “With the release of our winter schedule, those who are planning further ahead or dreaming of a vacation abroad can find our always affordable flights and Getaway packages available for booking through April 2022.”

As the airline that always has deals on already affordable flights, Swoop will offer scheduled winter service to 14 destinations, with ultra-low fares starting from just $40 CAD † total price in the example of a one-way Abbotsford to Edmonton flight. The addition of a tenth aircraft in time for the winter flying season will allow Canada’s leading ULCC to add new routes, destinations, and frequencies in pace with demand.

“Consumer confidence is coming back, and the message is clear, Canadians are ready to start planning that long overdue trip,” continued Duncan. “When travellers are ready, we look forward to safely welcoming them back onboard our aircraft.”

Details of Swoop’s Winter 2021 Schedule and flights currently for sale:

Domestic RoutesPeak Season
Days of WeekService start dates
Toronto – Edmonton14x weekly2x DailyAlready in Service
Toronto – Abbotsford7x weeklyDailyJun 20
Toronto – Halifax7x weeklyDailyJul 16
Toronto – Kelowna7x weeklyDailyAlready in Service
Toronto – Victoria6x weeklyDaily, except
Jun 24
Hamilton – Edmonton7x weeklyDailyAlready in Service
Hamilton – Abbotsford14x weekly2x DailyAlready in Service
Hamilton – Halifax4x weeklyMon, Thu, Fri, SunJun 24
Hamilton – Winnipeg4x weeklyTue, Thu, Fri, SatAlready in Service
Hamilton – Kelowna6x weeklyDaily, except
Jun 20
Edmonton – Abbotsford14x weekly2x DailyAlready in Service
Edmonton – Winnipeg2x weeklyMon, FriNov 1
Edmonton – Victoria7x weeklyDailyAlready in Service
Winnipeg – Abbotsford7x weeklyDailyAlready in Service
Winnipeg – Kelowna3x weeklyTue, Thu, FriJun 24
Transborder RoutesPeak Season
Days of WeekService start dates
Edmonton – Mesa/Phoenix4x weeklyMon, Wed, Fri, SatSept 17
Edmonton – Las Vegas5x weeklyMon, Tue, Thu, Fri,
Sept 23
Toronto – Mesa2x weeklyTue, ThuNov 2
Winnipeg – Mesa/Phoenix2x weeklyMon, FriNov 1
International RoutesPeak Season
Days of WeekService start dates
Toronto – Puerto Vallarta2x weeklyWed, SunNov 3
Toronto – Cancun4x weeklyMon, Wed, Fri, SunSept 18
Toronto – Montego Bay3x weeklyTue, Thu, SatSept 11
Hamilton – Puerto Vallarta2x weeklyTue, FriOct 5
Hamilton- Cancun3x weeklyMon, Wed, SatOct 2
Hamilton – Montego Bay 1x weeklyFridayOct 15
Edmonton – Cancun3x weeklyMon, Wed, SatOct 2
Edmonton-Puerto Vallarta3x weeklyTue, Fri, SunOct 5
Edmonton – Mazatlán2x weeklyWed, SatOct 23
Winnipeg – Cancun3x weeklyTue, Thu, SunNov 7
Winnipeg – Puerto Vallarta2x weeklyMon, ThuNov 4
Abbotsford – Puerto
2x weeklyWed, SatNov 3

†One-way flight from Abbotsford (YXX) to Edmonton (YEG) when you book by June 20, for travel between October 31 – November 10, 2021.  Restrictions may apply, for full details see

To learn more about Swoop and find ultra-low fare flights, please visit

About Swoop: Swoop is on a mission to make travel more affordable and accessible for all Canadians. Established in 2018 as an independent subsidiary of the WestJet Group of Companies, Swoop is Canada’s ultra-not-expensive airline. Offering scheduled service to destinations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, Swoop’s unbundled fares put travellers in control of purchasing only the products and services they desire.

Swoop’s modern fleet of nine Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, equipped with in-seat power and Wi-Fi connectivity has safely carried more than 3 million travellers in three years of operation.

Flair Airlines Extends Domestic Schedule into 2022

The growing ULCC has released its Winter 2021/22 schedule for sale with fares starting from as low as $19

Edmonton, Alberta, May 27, 2021 – Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), has expanded its schedule with flights to domestic destinations now on sale until March 2022.  With 24 routes and over 650,000 seats on sale, Winter 2021/22 will be Flair’s biggest ever winter schedule.

The winter schedule is part of Flair’s expansion of service to bring low fare air travel to more Canadians. The airline has 13 new aircraft on order joining the fleet in 2021 and 2022.

“We understand how keen Canadians are to travel again and our winter schedule will provide affordable air travel options to help connect the many families and friends who have been apart for the past year,” says Garth Lund, Chief Commercial Officer. “With fares available from as low as $19 and new aircraft joining the fleet, Flair will continue its expansion into the winter season.”

Bookings are now available for travel through March 26, 2022.

Iqaluit to Sanikiluaq flight to take off as soon as COVID-19 dies down

From CBC News – link to source story

The regular flight is a 6-month pilot project meant to break Sanikiluaq’s isolation

Meagan Deuling · CBC News · Posted: May 26, 2021

Sanikiluaq’s airport will soon be busier, thanks to two scheduled flights a week direct from Iqaluit, set to start as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow. (Isabelle Beauregard)

Plans to launch a regular flight route between Iqaluit and Sanikiluaq as a six month pilot project are grounded due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iqaluit.

Arctic Fresh Projects Ltd. and Panorama Aviation won the contract to operate the twice weekly flight that was supposed to start on May 31 and end on Dec. 2.

“We have our reservation system ready to go. We have our aircraft and personnel ready to go. It’s just waiting now,” said Merlyn Recinos, owner of Arctic Fresh, an Igloolik-based online grocery company. 

Sanikiluaq is a small community of under 300 on the Hudson Bay’s Belcher Islands. It’s the most southerly community in Nunavut, and right now, the only way to travel between Sanikiluaq and the rest of the territory is via Winnipeg.

Before the pandemic, Sanikiluaq was connected by air routes to northern Quebec, too. 

The mayor of Sanikiluaq, Johnnie Cookie, and the MLA, Allan Rumbolt, have long called on the government of Nunavut to create a direct flight route between Sanikiluaq and Nunavut.

Sanikiluaq mayor Johnny Cookie with his wife Annie. (Submitted by Johnnie Cookie)

The flight takes two hours, and Rumbolt says the connection will cut six days off every trip he has to make to Iqaluit.

“So the timing is going to be much more efficient for me,” he said.

Because he’s an MLA, Rumbolt is exempt from two weeks of isolation required for most people entering Nunavut. This means most people traveling in and out of Sanikiluaq to anywhere else in the territory, have to isolate twice in Winnipeg.

Cookie said the connection will make it easier for people from Sanikiluaq to attend meetings elsewhere in Nunavut, go to medical appointments, and to further their education and training.

Not only that, but people will be able to visit their families more easily. 

“It has been it has been very hard for any one of us to travel,” Cookie said.

Rumbolt is hoping that the flight means more government officials will visit Sanikiluaq. 

MLA for Hudson Bay, Allan Rumbolt. (Beth Brown/CBC News)

The way the contract is written means this is likely.

The Nunavut government guarantees that it will buy six seats out of every flight. Each seat costs $1207.50, one way. If the airline sells four seats, the territory will pay for two. If the airline sells seven seats, it won’t buy any.

This contract is being called a pilot project. The companies have the chance to extend the contract by six months three times, for a total of two years. After six months, they’re allowed to change the seat prices to reflect the Consumer Price Index. 

Panorama Aviation will be flying a nine-seat PC-12 aircraft back and forth from Iqaluit to Sanikiluaq. (Panorama Aviation)

A spokesperson from the Department of Community and Government Services said the flight route will be considered a success in the short term if it “breaks the community’s isolation caused by pandemic travel restrictions.”

Longer term success will be measured by demand for the flight, “as well as the value the service is bringing to the community of Sanikiluaq.”

Panoramic Aviation will fly a PC-12 aircraft, with nine seats.

Arctic Fresh and Panorama Aviation are determined to provide a service to Sanikiluaq that is in demand — Recinos said their goal is to not have to rely on the territory buying seats.

Innotech-Execaire Aviation Group Launches its Prestige Concierge Service

MONTREAL, May 17, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Innotech-Execaire Aviation Group (“IEAG”) announced today that it has expanded the Concierge services capability of both of its Aircraft Management and Charter operating units for the benefit of its clients via the introduction of its Prestige Concierge Service by IEAG.

With aircraft based across Canada including Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, the Prestige Concierge Service will help IEAG engage its customers by opening doors to high-touch personalized service, a wealth of special offers, as well as access to extraordinary experiences. This service expansion speaks to IEAG’s unwavering commitment to improving the customer experience and establishing a true travel support capability for our valued clients.

This Prestige Concierge Service is a true testament to our customer service philosophy and our efforts to consistently and continuously improve the travel experience for our clients, said Michael Fedele, President, Innotech-Execaire Aviation Group.

Since 1967, corporate aircraft owners have trusted IEAG to manage their aircraft with a fully-integrated service offering and unique capability that supports its customers throughout their aircraft life-cycle.

This new Service will allow IEAG clients to benefit from offers and privileges worldwide across a wide range of lifestyle services, including hotels and villas, VIP experiences, culinary adventures, exquisite vacation packages and more.

We have been providing dedicated Concierge services to our client for years, however we are extremely excited to be launching this service enhancement in response to our clients’ growing full-service travel needs. This is an important milestone in our services evolution and reinforces our 100% commitment to providing a true lifestyles support experience for our customers, said Michael Fedele, President, Innotech-Execaire Aviation Group.

About Innotech-Execaire Aviation Group

IEAG is a leading full-service provider of aviation and technical support services to business aircraft OEMs, owners, operators, and commercial airlines. Based in Montreal, Quebec, IEAG offers a full range of aircraft interior/exterior refurbishment and technical services, including non-destructive testing, and has maintenance capabilities and FBO services at airports across Canada including a long history supporting Cessna aircraft from our Authorized Service Facility at Toronto Pearson for over 40 years. With a comprehensive fleet of business aircraft under management, IEAG has complete flight operations capabilities, as well as a large portion of its business jet fleet available for charter under the Execaire and Image Air brands.

IEAG is a business unit of IMP Group, a Halifax-based company focused on global sustainable growth, and with over 3,500 experienced people delivering service, quality and value to customers across diverse sectors, such as aerospace, aviation, healthcare, information technology, hospitality, and property development.

WASCO celebrates first international contract

April 21, 2021

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – April 21, 2021 – Winnipeg Airport Services Corp. (WASCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of Winnipeg Airports Authority, has landed its first consulting contract outside of Canada through an agreement with Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited.

Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited operates L.F. Wade International Airport, the only airport serving Bermuda. As a revered tourism destination and an island located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 650 miles off the coast of the U.S., Bermuda is heavily dependent on air transportation. After being sought out to submit a proposal in early 2021, WASCO entered into a partner-based agreement with Skyport to provide a review of L.F. Wade International Airport’s safety program, as well as to develop and implement targeted staff training. The delivery of these services, which are currently underway remotely, represent an exciting milestone for WASCO.

“This new shared partnership with Skyport marks our first step outside of Canada’s borders and is a great opportunity for our team to demonstrate our aviation expertise on the international stage,” said Michael O’Gorman, Managing Director of WASCO. “We’ve built a strong reputation in the Canadian aviation industry and it directly supported us in gaining this new contract in Bermuda. We hope to continue to expand into new regions, especially as more airports look for cost-effective solutions as they come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This year, WASCO is delivering an array of aviation services at 32 different airports spanning from coast-to- coast-to-coast in Canada. The Winnipeg-based subsidiary aims to help airport operators find innovative ways to meet best practices in the industry to efficiently serve their respective communities. WASCO’s partner- based approach involves working closely with each team to understand their needs and help add long-term value. At the same time, the subsidiary is familiar with serving airports in regions that rely on air access as a main mode of transportation, such as throughout Canada’s North, making them a strong fit to understand and benefit Bermuda’s airport environment.

“Skyport engaged WASCO at the beginning of Q1 2021 to provide support on improving our SMS Program,” said Chloé Minors, CRSP, Head of Safety at Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited. “The WASCO team facilitated an SMS Gap Analysis and Regulatory Program Review as well as developed a corrective action plan and an SMS training program, to be delivered in Q2 2021. Their knowledge and experience in safety program management was evident and their support during this process was invaluable. The Skyport team looks forward to working with them in the future as we continually improve our safety management system.”

Gaining a first international client is welcome news for WASCO and opens the door for future opportunities beyond Canada. Since 2014, the subsidiary has been steadily growing WAA’s impact and helping the company remain competitive to further lead transportation innovation and growth. This diversified business model has become increasingly critical in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly impact passenger travel. WASCO’s consulting expertise is not directly dependent on travel volumes but instead functions to create a safer, more efficient environment in the industry for long-term success based on tried and tested strategies.

At WASCO, our business is airports. Collectively, WASCO and our wholly owned subsidiaries, deliver innovative cost effective solutions to support Provincial, Territorial, Municipal and other Airport owners and operators throughout Canada. Our core services include Airport Operations, Airport Management, Facility Maintenance and Technical Solutions.

Winnipeg Airport Authority – Travel restrictions continue to hinder airport recovery in the first quarter of 2021

May 3, 2021

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – May 3, 2021 – March 2021 marked one full year of travel restrictions for the Canadian aviation industry, and Winnipeg Richardson International Airport continues to see low passenger traffic as a result. The number of passengers moving through the airport declined by 88.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period the previous year. Passenger traffic at the airport continues to trend downward, with Q1 2021 passenger traffic 25.3 per cent lower than the fourth quarter of 2020.

This decline is partly due to the federal government’s decision in February to mandate all international flights, including previously exempt flights from the U.S. and sun destinations, to land at only four Canadian airports, not including Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. This requirement removed Winnipeg’s last standing link to the U.S. — direct daily service to Minneapolis-St. Paul offered by Delta Air Lines. The provincial government also extended the provincial 14-day self-isolation requirement to anyone entering the province, further suppressing passenger traffic.

This decline in travel negatively impacted WAA’s net earnings as passenger traffic is the airport’s primary revenue driver. WAA’s consolidated revenue for the first quarter of 2021 was $10.9 million, versus $31.3 million for the first quarter in 2020. Earnings before interest, depreciation and taxes were flat in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $13.4 million during the same period the previous year.

In Q1, WAA was forced to secure an additional $100 million bond to sustain the cost of operating YWG due to continued losses and minimal government aid for the airport to date. This step was necessary to protect the airport’s ability to support critical services, including essential travel, medevac flights, cargo and military operations.

“The airport continues 24/7 operations in support of our community, including vaccine shipments, despite revenue losses due to travel restrictions,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority. “Our regional economy has benefited from an international airport for close to a century and having that connectivity suspended directly threatens our region’s economic and social recovery. Sustaining operations to ensure Manitoba’s competitive future requires targeted government support and a clear plan to immediately return international service to the market”.

WAA’s diversified business model continues to help offset some of the impacts of reduced air service and low passenger volumes.

In the first quarter of 2021, demand in the cargo sector remained strong. The number of cargo planes landing at YWG jumped 7.5 per cent in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2020. Gross takeoff weight, an important metric in measuring air cargo performance, also increased by 4.3 per cent compared to the same period the previous year.

Looking ahead, WAA is working closely with all airline partners to showcase the strong potential within the region and help restore air service. Through these efforts, Flair and Swoop are planning to return service to YWG in the second quarter of 2021, and WestJet is further growing its route network to offer direct service to Victoria.

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.

WAA continues to focus on serving community while navigating pandemic

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.

Credit to Winnipeg Airports Authority

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.

Winnipeg airport lost $40M in 2020

From the Toronto Star – link to source story

By Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press | Thu., April 29, 2021

The Winnipeg Airports Authority revealed a particularly grim outlook of its consolidated financial statements at its annual public meeting Thursday.

After a year marred by COVID-19, executive members from the airports authority said urgent support is needed from the federal government to save it. They outlined the many ways in which Ottawa has failed regional airports like Winnipeg’s.

Nicole Stefaniuk, vice-president of finance and administration, said 2020 was the worst year in the local airport’s history — mostly because passengers typically make up about 90 per cent of airport revenue and because almost 80 per cent of costs are fixed, such as utilities, personnel employment and taxes).

Passenger traffic fell from an average of 12,300 travellers per day to less than 250 on a good day for Winnipeg’s airport — a symptom of mandated lockdowns, border closures and pandemic travel restrictions across Canada.

That translated into a $73.5-million decrease in revenue, which was 52.6 per cent lower than 2019. The airport ended 2020 with a net loss of $40.3 million compared to a net income of $3.5 million in 2019.

“We’ve tried to cut down wherever we could just to make due,” said Stefaniuk.

“We assessed every light, thermostat, piece of equipment and process to find efficiencies and even delayed all non-safety related capital projects to make cuts. There were a lot of unfortunate decisions and we’re still at a hefty loss.”

Part of those cuts involved saying goodbye to almost 20 per cent of the airport’s 150-person staff, who were either laid off or decided to retire in 2020.

Pay reductions were implemented for non-unionized employees, and the airport even accessed the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy to pay out some salaries.

“But what are you supposed to do when no one is travelling and when your federal government just isn’t helping you out like other countries?” Barry Rempel, CEO and president, told the Free Press in an interview.

Canada has provided its aviation and air transportation industry the most minimal support compared to other G7 countries, he said.

That’s going to cause a much costlier recovery for the sector in this country and also result in much higher airfares with fewer route options, said Rempel.

“In reality, we were aviation leaders before this pandemic,” he said.

“This lack of aid continues to hurt our country’s competitive edge in the whole world, especially when you see the U.S. handing out billions of dollars through several legislative packages to their airports.”

Earlier this month, the Trudeau government announced $1.5 billion in targeted support from the federal budget for pandemic-battered travel and tourism industries.

“Canada clamped down on travel to keep Canadians safe, but we will be providing support where COVID has struck hardest,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters, touting the $465 million dollars earmarked under that budget item for air travel and airports.

However, Rempel said none of those details have yet been identified.

The emergency funding is “quite little to begin with, because it’s intended to be for all airports all across the country,” he said. “Certainly, I can say none of us know at this stage where it’s going and if any of that will be coming to Winnipeg.”

Winnipeg’s airport isn’t so keen about support or lobbying from the Manitoba government either. “Have they successfully vocalized our plight on our behalf?” said Rempel.

“You can look at our finances and obviously see the answer.”

Winnipeg began last year with direct service to 43 destinations across Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. That number has drastically reduced to 14 domestic connections and direct service to only one U.S. destination: Minneapolis-St. Paul.

On top of that, four airlines — Sunwing, Air Transat, Swoop and United Airlines — have stopped servicing the airport altogether.

Since the federal wage and rent subsidy programs were the only supports provided to the airport in 2020, the company is now exploring alternative methods for relief. They commenced a bondholder consent solicitation process in December and have secured short-term financial relief for the next two years, with a year-end issuing $100 million of bonds.

“I know there is light at the end of this because in all my years in this industry, I’ve seen the desire to go places always returns,” said Rempel.

“But this isn’t just about Winnipeg’s airport. This whole process of building back and recovery will take years and years without the right policies or government support.”