Business taking off at London International Airport as coronavirus restrictions begin loosening

News from Global News – link to story

ByJacquelyn LeBel 980 CFPL | Posted June 30, 2020

The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017.
The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

The airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, but the London International Airport is starting to see a bit of a turnaround.

Gary Vanderhoek, manager of commercial services and passenger experience, says the airport had four flights scheduled on Tuesday.

“After the last 100 days of basically no flying at the airport, it’s amazing to see a bit of a comeback,” he said on London Live with Mike Stubbs.

“It’s about a quarter of what we used to see — we were up to 30 flights a day at one time.”

Vanderhoek says the airport started a new program on June 22 to “regain some of that passenger confidence.” The program, Flight Path to Recovery, outlines all of the policies and procedures implemented in response to the pandemic.

Airplanes have been operating at about half capacity for physical-distancing purposes but as of July 1, those restrictions will be eased. Some health experts have highlighted the risks of spreading COVID-19 in crowded airports and packed cabins, but director of the Harvard public health school’s Healthy Buildings program Joseph Allen said the HEPA air filters used on most planes effectively control airborne bacteria and viruses.

“One piece of confidence (passengers) can definitely take into account,” he added, “is aircraft have very strong air filters. There’s a HEPA air filter on most of them. Yes, there’s some movement of air on the aircraft but it does filter the air better than what it would, say, normally in a confined space that you’d see anywhere, that you’d see in a restaurant, let’s say.”

In line with federal directives, Air Canada and WestJet also conduct pre-boarding temperature checks and require masks on board. They have also implemented enhanced aircraft cleaning and scaled back their in-flight service in late March, cutting out hot drinks, hot meals and fresh food.

Vanderhoek says the airport has been pretty lucky in June with about three flights a day and four additional flights a week.

“Again, a far cry from where we used to be but nice story is that the bookings are solid enough that people are starting to come back.”

While Vanderhoek notes volume is generally increasing, Air Canada announced on Tuesday that it’s discontinuing service on 30 domestic routes — including its London to Ottawa route — and closing eight stations at airports across the country amid weakened demand for travel due to the novel coronavirus and measures put in place to limit its spread.

— with files from The Canadian Press’ Christopher Reynolds and Global News’ Andrew Russell.

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

WestJet releases July schedule to get Canadians exploring again

From WestJet, an Alberta Partnership

Airline continues to focus on significant safety and hygiene enhancements to ensure a safe travel journey

CALGARY, AB, June 15, 2020 /CNW/ – WestJet today released its updated July schedule, developed to allow Canadians the pleasure of summer travel while economically supporting communities across the country in safely reopening travel and domestic tourism. In addition, the airline has added flights to select U.S. markets.

To ensure guests can book with confidence, the airline maintains its stringent Safety Above All hygiene program and continues to provide flexibility in booking, change and cancellation policies.

“Today’s schedule reflects our commitment to orderly and safe travel while providing steps to allow Canadians to get out, explore, and take part in critical economic activities like staying in hotels, eating out, visiting tourist attractions or simply just travelling to see friends and family,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “Governments and Canadians from coast-to-coast are working together to lessen the impact of this pandemic and we are grateful that these efforts have put us in a position to add more options for travel this July.”

From July 5 through August 4, 2020, WestJet will offer operations to 45 destinations including 39 in Canada, five in the U.S. and one in Mexico an increase of approximately 102 per cent more flights from June, but down 76 per cent from July 2019.

Continued von zur Muehlen, “As we emerge from the pandemic, health vigilance must be balanced with the gradual reopening of our economy. WestJet has done our part and spent millions of dollars to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests and our people. We’re ready to get Canadians flying.”

On March 22, WestJet suspended its international and transborder operations. The airline’s schedule now contains flights to key transborder and international destinations including Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta (ATL) and Las Vegas (LAS).

“Jurisdictions around the world are opening, allowing citizens to begin flying once again which is kickstarting their economies for recovery. We’ve heard from the communities we serve and look forward to having Canadians safely participate and stimulate domestic tourism this summer,” stated von zur Muehlen.

At this time, the airline is planning on operating the following domestic routes and frequencies from July 5 – August 4.

Continue reading

Air Canada service to resume at London’s (ON) airport in June with 2 Toronto-bound flights daily

News from Global News – link to story

BY MATTHEW TREVITHICK GLOBAL NEWS | Posted May 29, 2020

The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017.
 The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Plane traffic has been few and far between at London’s International Airport amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but come next month that will change.

Airport officials say Air Canada, which hasn’t flown into or out of London, Ont., for the last several weeks, will begin offering two daily flights to Toronto starting June 22.

The impact of the coronavirus on air travel is evident when you consider that pre-pandemic, nine Air Canada flights left London every day for Toronto, in addition to two Ottawa-bound flights and one to Montreal.

“We’ve gone from, I guess, 2,500 passengers a day to some days… yesterday we were at 25 passengers — 10 going out and 15 coming in,” said Mike Seabrook, the airport’s president and CEO.

WestJet has continued to operate passenger service out of the airport, albeit with fewer flights — about four a week — all to Toronto, Seabrook says. The airline is expected to up that number to one a day beginning in July.

Despite the lack of passenger service, the airport hasn’t been entirely quiet thanks to medevac, cargo, and corporate departures, along with occasional general aviation flights — “the person who likes to fly for fun.”

“But it is really eerily slow,” Seabrook said. “So we’re looking forward to society getting back to even close to normal and a return of flying activity.”

A return to normal can’t come soon enough.

Following a year of record-breaking passenger traffic in 2019, airport revenue is expected to be halved in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Seabrook, however, is optimistic.

“There’s still demand here in our marketplace, and we’ll get this thing back when society returns to levels that’ll support travel again.”

Seabrook said the airport has experienced voluntary layoffs due to the pandemic, but has otherwise kept on most of its crew with assistance from the Emergency Wage Subsidy Program.

We’ve kept all our crew working, kind of, in two crews at separate times, keeping separation,” he said. “We’ve managed to keep everybody busy.”

Workers have been using the dearth of traffic over the last several weeks as an opportunity to spruce up the airport, repaving the main parking lot, painting the inside of the terminal, and replacing tarmac on the taxiway.

With borders closed and travel restrictions in effect, the aviation industry, like many others, has been hit hard by the pandemic, with airlines bleeding cash as planes remain grounded and maintenance and airport fees add up.

Two weeks ago, Air Canada announced it would lay off about 20,000 employees after reporting a first-quarter loss of more than $1 billion after slashing its flight capacity by more than 90 per cent.

Last week, the company said it would bolster its summer schedule, which nonetheless remains more than 50 per cent smaller than last year.

WestJet, meanwhile, has cancelled tens of thousands of flights, including all U.S. and international routes, through July 4, and has shed around 9,000 workers, according to a company spokesperson.

Talking to the airlines, obviously, they’re very cautious,” Seabrook said of restarting flights. “If they’re operating their aircraft at empty or near-empty, they’re losing more money than if the aircraft had just parked.”

But they are seeing positive signs in terms of demand,” he noted. “People do have to travel.”

“There’s a segment of society that just travels for fun, but we do have to get around … So there’s pent up demand and we just hope that the faucet gets turned on fairly quickly.”

The International Air Transport Association predicts global revenues will fall by US$314 billion this year, or 55 per cent, from 2019.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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

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.

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) 

Support to Canada’s Air Transportation Sector

From: Department of Finance Canada ~ 30 March 2020

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada recognizes the unprecedented disruption to the air transportation sector resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, air passenger traffic has declined significantly as governments around the world impose border restrictions and advise their citizens to avoid unnecessary travel as a measure to slow the progression of the disease.

Support to Airports

Airports rely on fees paid by airlines and passengers to sustain their operations. As passenger traffic declines, airports are seeing their revenues fall, while at the same time they need to ensure safe operations.

To help airports reduce cost pressures and preserve cash flow as they deal with the effects of COVID-19 on their revenue, the government is waiving rents paid on ground leases for the 21 airport authorities that form part of the National Airport System and that pay rent to the government. The government will waive rent payments for March 2020 through December 2020.  The government is also providing comparable treatment for PortsToronto, which operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, by waiving payments made to the federal government on revenues generated by the airport. This will provide relief up to $331.4 million, reflecting payments in the same period of 2018.

By waiving ground lease payments, the government is helping these airport authorities to preserve cash flow during the disruption. This will allow them to redeploy cash to help maintain their operations and to support recovery strategies. This approach is consistent with actions taken to support the sector during previous major disruptions, such as the SARS outbreak in 2003.

The 21 National Airport System airport authorities covered by this measure are not-for-profit, non-share capital corporations that pay rents to operate airports in Canada under long-term leases with Transport Canada. Rents are based on revenues earned from operating the airports and related lands, which are owned by the government.

The 21 airport authorities that will receive relief are:

  • St. John’s International Airport Authority
  • Gander International Airport Authority Inc.
  • Halifax International Airport Authority
  • Charlottetown Airport Authority Inc.
  • Saint John Airport Inc.
  • Greater Moncton International Airport Authority Inc.
  • Fredericton International Airport Authority
  • Aéroport de Québec Inc.
  • Aéroports de Montréal
  • Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority
  • Greater Toronto Airports Authority
  • Greater London International Airports Authority
  • Thunder Bay International Airports Inc.
  • Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.
  • Regina Airport Authority
  • Saskatoon Airport Authority
  • Edmonton Regional Airports Authority
  • Calgary Airport Authority
  • Prince George Airport Authority Inc.
  • Vancouver International Airport Authority
  • Victoria Airport Authority.

PortsToronto operates the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and pays an annual charge to Transport Canada based on the revenues it earns under the terms of its letters patent.  PortsToronto revenues include those generated from operating Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

WestJet: 29 March Update

Received directly from WESTJET

NETWORK AND SCHEDULE CHANGES – WestJet announces schedule updates through May 4 and select seasonal route start dates

On Thursday, March 26 WestJet marked the last day of our planned transborder (U.S.) and international (Europe, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean) flying due to the COVID-19 crisis and the closing of international borders.

This is a difficult time as we temporarily say goodbye to these airports that have helped WestJet grow beyond our domestic borders and brought the pleasure and ease of worldwide travel to millions of Canadians.

We thank all of our airport partners, our contractors and our guests for their support and we look forward to resuming flights when we emerge from these turbulent times.

INTERNATIONAL AND TRANSBORDER

As the crisis continues, we have now updated our international and transborder schedule to temporarily remove flying through May 4, 2020. For our guests who have booked their travel after April 22 through May 4, we are proactively notifying you of your travel options.

Seasonal international route starts dates have been updated as follows:

  • Toronto – Barcelona starts June 5, 2020
  • Calgary – Rome starts June 4, 2020
  • Halifax – Manchester has been cancelled for summer 2020. WestJet will be reaccomodating guests on Halifax – London (Gatwick)

DOMESTIC

Our domestic schedule has also now been updated through May 4. Details remain the same as communicated earlier this week (see schedule below) with the exception of Grande Prairie. Due to newly reduced airport operating hours, we have reduced the daily Calgary – Grand Prairie schedule by two flights. WestJet will continue to fly once daily. In addition, Edmonton – Grande Prairie has been suspended until further notice.

Select seasonal domestic routes will start July 3, 2020 including:

  • Calgary – Whitehorse
  • Calgary – Dawson Creek
  • Calgary – Windsor
  • Toronto – Deer Lake
  • Halifax – Gander

For our guests who have booked their travel prior to July 3, we are proactively notifying you of your travel options.

We understand the uncertainty our guests, WestJetters and partners face, and we thank them for their continued patience.

WestJet domestic schedule March 22 – May 4, 2020:

ALBERTA AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Calgary-Abbotsford3x daily
Calgary-Comox2x daily
Calgary-Cranbrook2x daily
Calgary-Fort St. John2x daily
Calgary-Kamloops1x daily
Calgary-Kelowna4x daily
Calgary-Nanaimo1x daily
Calgary-Penticton1x daily
Calgary-Prince George1x daily
Calgary-Vancouver6x daily
Calgary-Victoria2x daily
Calgary-Edmonton6x daily
Calgary-Fort McMurray3x daily
Calgary-Grande Prairie1x daily (UPDATED)
Calgary-Lethbridge2x daily
Calgary-Lloydminster6x weekly
Calgary-Medicine Hat2x daily
Calgary-Yellowknife1x daily
Calgary-Brandon1x daily
Calgary-Regina4x daily
Calgary-Saskatoon4x daily
Calgary-Winnipeg4x daily
Calgary-Hamilton4x weekly
Calgary-Kitchener/Waterloo3x weekly
Calgary-Ottawa4x weekly
Calgary-Toronto5x daily
Calgary-Montreal3x weekly
Calgary-Halifax4x weekly
Edmonton-Kelowna1x daily
Edmonton-Vancouver2x daily
Edmonton-Calgary6x daily
Edmonton-Fort McMurray2x daily
Edmonton-Grande PrairieTemporarily postponed
Edmonton-Regina4x weekly
Edmonton-Saskatoon3x weekly
Edmonton-Winnipeg1x daily
Edmonton-Toronto1x daily

BRITISH COLUMBIA AND YUKON

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Abbotsford-Calgary3x daily
Comox-Calgary2x daily
Cranbrook-Calgary2x daily
Fort St John-Vancouver1x daily
Fort St John-Calgary2x daily
Kamloops-Calgary1x daily
Kelowna-Vancouver3x daily
Kelowna-Calgary4x daily
Kelowna-Edmonton1x daily
Nanaimo-Calgary1x daily
Penticton-Calgary1x daily
Prince George-Vancouver3x daily
Prince George-Calgary1x daily
Terrace-Vancouver2x daily
Vancouver-Fort St John1x daily
Vancouver-Kelowna3x daily
Vancouver-Prince George3x daily
Vancouver-Terrace2x daily
Vancouver-Victoria2x daily
Vancouver-Calgary6x daily
Vancouver-Edmonton2x daily
Vancouver-Toronto3x daily
Victoria-Vancouver2x daily
Victoria-Calgary2x daily

ONTARIO

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Hamilton-Calgary4x weekly
Kitchener/Waterloo-Calgary3x weekly
London, ON-Toronto1x daily
Ottawa-Calgary4x weekly
Ottawa-Toronto5x daily
Ottawa-Halifax1x weekly
Thunder Bay-Winnipeg1x daily
Thunder Bay-Toronto1x daily
Toronto-Vancouver3x daily
Toronto-Calgary5x daily
Toronto-Edmonton1x daily
Toronto-Winnipeg3x daily
Toronto-London, ON1x daily
Toronto-Ottawa5x daily
Toronto-Thunder Bay1x daily
Toronto-Montreal5x daily
Toronto-Quebec City1x daily
Toronto-Charlottetown3x weekly
Toronto-Fredericton1x daily
Toronto-Halifax4x daily
Toronto-Moncton1x daily
Toronto-St. John’s1x daily

SASKATCHEWAN

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Regina-Calgary4x daily
Regina-Edmonton4x daily
Saskatoon-Calgary4x daily
Saskatoon-Edmonton3x weekly
Saskatoon-Winnipeg1x daily

MANITOBA

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Brandon-Calgary1x daily
Winnipeg-Calgary4x daily
Winnipeg-Edmonton1x daily
Winnipeg-Saskatoon1x daily
Winnipeg-Thunder Bay1x daily
Winnipeg-Toronto3x daily

QUEBEC

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Montreal-Calgary3x weekly
Montreal-Toronto5x daily
Montreal-Halifax1x weekly
Quebec City-Toronto1x daily

NEW BRUNSWICK

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Fredericton-Toronto1x daily
Moncton-Toronto1x daily

NOVA SCOTIA

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Halifax-Calgary4x weekly
Halifax-Ottawa1x weekly
Halifax-Toronto4x daily
Halifax-Montreal1x weekly
Halifax-St. John’s (Nfld.)2x daily
Halifax-Sydney1x daily
Sydney-Halifax1x daily

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
Charlottetown-Toronto3x weekly

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Domestic RoutePlanned Operations
St. John’s (Nfld.)-Toronto1x daily
St. John’s (Nfld.)-Halifax2x daily


The following links may also be helpful:

Coronavirus: With travel industry hobbled, flights few at London International Airport

News provided by Global News – link to full story and updates

BY MATTHEW TREVITHICK 980 CFPLPosted March 27, 2020 3:11 pm

FILE - London International Airport on July, 19, 2017.
 FILE – London International Airport on July, 19, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

At this time of the year, London’s International Airport would have 40 scheduled commercial flights coming and going every day.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, though, that figure is down to as few as five a day, and even then, the planes are “virtually empty,” says airport CEO, Mike Seabrook.

“Our passenger traffic is about 10-15 per cent of what it normally is,” Seabrook said in an interview Friday with Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Devon Peacock.

Like the rest of the travel industry, airports have been reeling from the pandemic as borders stay closed and planes remain grounded.

For London International, it’s a particularly hard pill to swallow.

The airport saw record-breaking passenger traffic in 2019, up 27 per cent from a record-breaking 2018,, and was planning on adding more routes this year.

“There’s just nobody travelling right now for good reason,” Seabrook says, “and for those who are, there’s been some repatriation flights and people returning home, but there’s very few people who are going anywhere any more.”

With travel restrictions in place and Canadians following government orders to self-isolate, airlines like Air Canada and WestJet have either suspended or cancelled their scheduled international flights and have drastically reduced domestic capacity.

Asked about the possibility the number of arriving and departing flights could hit zero in the near future, Seabrook said it could happen, but noted he was only speculating.

“With the airlines, it doesn’t make sense to operate an aircraft with so few people on it. And if nobody is travelling, I think that’s inevitable,” he said.

“You know, maybe if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and in two and three and four weeks there’s some return to something closer to normal, they may hang on there and then pick it up. It’s not easy to shut down an airline.”

On top of scaling back flights, both Air Canada and WestJet have also scaled back their workforces due to the pandemic.

Air Canada is temporarily laying off more than 5,100 of its flight attendants, and up to 600 of its more than 4,400 pilots will go on unpaid leave in the coming months, according to the head of the Air Canada Pilots Association, who says the precise number of positions that have been immediately affected remains unclear.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, roughly half of WestJet’s 14,000 employees, some 6,900 people, are leaving the company, some temporarily, due to the pandemic, the airline says.

Its budget subsidiary Swoop, which also operates out of London’s airport, is not included in the figures, which also counts early retirements and both voluntary and involuntary layoffs.

With flights and passengers few and far between, the airport has been reduced to a skeleton crew of essential workers who come in to maintain and operate the facility as required, Seabrook said.

“There’s some regulatory things that we have to do in terms of maintaining it,” Seabrook says. “So we’ve sent every non-essential home… We still have medivacs, we still have some freight operations that that come and go.

“The airport will be always be open because there are requirements for for non-passenger services that come and go there.”

On the possibility of layoffs like those seen elsewhere in the travel industry, Seabrook says it really depends on how long the pandemic, and its economic fallout, lasts.

Estimates have pegged potential global passenger revenue losses this year of $252 billion, according to the Air Transport Association — a drop of 44 per cent from 2019.

“If you can imagine London’s problem worldwide… there’s airports like Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal, the four big ones in Canada, that have similar circumstances occurring. And the effects to them are significant.”“At this point, we’re just telling our staff [that] we’re hanging in there,” Seabrook said. “We’re in good shape, financially, as an airport, so that helps us during these tough times.”Air Canada lays off 5000 workers in light of COVID-19 pandemic

Asked if there was concern the pandemic could upend any positive momentum the airport’s seen in growth over the past few years, Seabook said he hoped there wouldn’t be, but noted that London has been a profitable route for the airlines, who, if they make it through this turbulence, “will have aircraft, and the aircraft have to fly, and they need markets to fly in.”

“There’s always that worry… But I mean, we’re hopeful. We’re a low cost airport… And with our catchment area, the number of people we have in here, and that approach we’ve taken, I think we’re in pretty good shape when this thing returns again.”

— with files from Christopher Reynolds of The Canadian Press

LONDON AIRPORT ON TRACK FOR 1 MILLION PASSENGERS IN 2020 AMID RECORD NUMBERS

News provided by AM800-iHeartRadio.ca – link to full story with a hint from P.N.

ANCHOR, Sacha Long, Friday, December 13th 2019

image.jpg

It’s been another record-setting year for London International Airport with more travellers than ever before taking off from the Forest City.

For a second straight year, the airport has seen a jump in the number of passengers passing through its front doors. The CEO of the airport, Mike Seabrook, says London could see just under 700,000 passengers this year, compared to 540,000 passengers last year. “That’s about a 25-per-cent increase. In the airport world, that’s significant.”

And Seabrook says the growth is sustainable.

“Two years ago, we had 530,000 passengers. In 2020, I think we could get over a million.”

A couple of years ago, London branded itself as “the easy and comfortable airport” and Seabrook believes London is being recognized for that.

“I think that we are getting recognized by travellers,” he said. “They like using the airport. They find it easy and comfortable to use … That’s our brand. We are delivering on it.”

London resident Shannon ??? has flown from the airport four times and said it’s “easy to use.”

“The parking is reasonable and close to the building,” she said. “There is easy access to the terminals after check-in. It’s great.”

WHAT’S BEHIND THE GROWTH?

Seabrook credits the steady growth at London airport to a number of factors, including the introduction this year of Canada’s ultra-low cost airline, Swoop.

Swoop began servicing flights from London in May, offering Southern Ontario residents direct travel to Abbotsford, Edmonton, and Halifax. Swoop will continue flights to Edmonton and Abbotsford this winter, with additional flights to Las Vegas, Orlando, and Cancun. And today, the company announced plans to launch daily, non-stop flights in April 2020 to Winnipeg, marking the seventh destination offered by Swoop from London International Airport.

“We are glad to see Swoop succeed in London and we hope passengers continue to take advantage of Swoop’s ultra-low cost fares,” said Seabrook.

The two other major carriers, West jet and Air Canada, also added new flights this year.

This winter, Seabrook says the airport is offering more southern destinations than ever before, including 13 flights a week to locations including Florida, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico.

The increased traffic has meant the addition of several hundred new jobs at the airport and Seabrook says “the potential for many more” as growth continues. “From an economic point of view, the number of people that have been hired at this airport, in various capacities, has been remarkable. I see new people every day.”

Seabrook says cities like Toronto and Detroit continue to be the real catalyst for London’s growth.

Seabrook says Toronto’s airports grow each year by 3 million to 5 million passengers. In another 20 years, he expects that number to reach over 100 million passengers annually. “They can’t handle that capacity.”

Seabrook says Toronto is limited by runways and infrastructure, and that’s why he believes there is a bright future for London.

The London airport is also far more convenient for local travellers – and less expensive.

“It’s … much less expensive than travelling to Toronto and paying for high parking costs, the cost of getting there, the time, the effort,” he said.

“And in bad weather, it’s a lot easier and a lot simpler … If you can arrive home from a tropical destination and drive 20 minutes to home, it’s so much nicer than driving down the 401 in the winter at midnight. It’s a big blessing for us.”

ACCOMODATING GROWTH

Seabrook expects the airport will be close to, or surpass, a million passengers in 2020. He says the airport can accommodate those numbers but efforts are still underway to get ahead of the growth.

The airport is working on a “terminal precinct plan” that will take a broad look at the terminal and its processes to determine the most efficient way to expand. “We are trying to make sure we are prepared for this,” said Seabrook. “When you get jumps of 20, 30, 50 per cent a year, it’s hard to plan for, but we are managing and we’ll be fine for next year. And if we can get this plan in place, we hope to see an expansion of the terminal building.”

This past year, the airport spent $12 million in capital funds to expand one of the major taxiways and a complete a massive upgrade to the baggage screening area, among other things. Seabrook says investment’s like these are critical to the future growth of the airport. “You have to have your infrastructure in good shape or you can’t attract the services you need to grow.”

Seabrook says other carriers are watching. “Businesses attract business. New airlines attract new services and before we know it, London could be a 3-, 4-, or 5-million-a-year passenger airport with services to a wide array of destinations. It would be great if that could happen.”

Seabrook says he is proud of the progression. Ten years ago, many of the flights out of London went through Toronto. There were limited direct flight destinations. But things have changed.

And what’s good for the airport, is also good for the city.

“The better the air service is, the easier it is to attract business. It goes hand in hand for sure.”

Swoop Adds Two New Routes from London, ON to its Winter Schedule

Provided by Swoop/CNW

Canadians can now fly direct to Cancún and Orlando from London, Ontario

CALGARY, Oct. 24, 2019 /CNW/ – London, ON residents can escape the Canadian winter with the launch of Swoop’s two new routes heading south of the border. Swoop, Canada’s ultra-low-fare airline and subsidiary of WestJet Airlines Inc., will depart from London International Airport (YXU) to Cancún International Airport (CUN) on October 24 at 3 p.m. EDT, followed by the inaugural flight to Orlando International Airport (MCO) on October 26 at 3:50 p.m. EDT.

Orlando Skyline (CNW Group/Swoop)
Orlando Skyline (CNW Group/Swoop)

These inaugural flights kick off Swoop’s London, ON winter schedule. Flights are available for booking now through to April 25, 2020. With twice-weekly service offered for both routes, Swoop travellers have more choices for their winter getaway.

“We know many Canadians love to head to sun destinations in the winter, which is why we aim to provide more opportunities for Canadians to travel south at a price-point that works for them,” said Steven Greenway, President, Swoop. “These additions to our network marks our fifth and sixth year-round and seasonal routes from London.”

As tourism hubs, both Cancún and Orlando offer experiences for visitors of all ages and walks of life, providing exciting options that suit Swoop travellers’ different travel styles. With affordable fares and an unbundled services model, Swoop is providing more Canadians with travel opportunities across North America.

“We’re thrilled to launch non-stop service to Cancún and Orlando from London with Swoop this week,” said Michael Seabrook, President and CEO, London International Airport. “The addition of these routes offers passengers more ultra-low-cost options for their winter escape this season from our easy and comfortable airport.”

Swoop’s twice-weekly service from London to Cancún departs on Thursdays and Saturdays, and from London to Orlando on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Details of Swoop’s service to Cancún and Orlando:

Service BetweenService OfferedWeekly FrequencyTotal one-way price from
London, ON to Cancún, MXThursday,
Saturday
2 x per week$118.00† CAD
Cancún, MX to London, ONThursday,
Saturday
2 x per week$69.00† CAD
London, ON to Orlando, FLWednesday,
Saturday
2 x per week$79.00† CAD
Orlando, FL to  London, ONWednesday,
Saturday
2 x per week$52.00† CAD

†Every day low fares valid through November 1, 2019 for travel between January 7 – February 12, 2020.

To learn more about Swoop’s destinations, schedule and ultra-low-cost model visit FlySwoop.com or connect with Swoop on FacebookTwitterInstagram.