Sask. Government selling Executive Air facilities at Regina International Airport

News from CTV News – link to story and video

Wayne Mantyka, CTV News Regina Video Journalist
Cole Davenport, CTV News Regina Video Journalist
Published Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Saskatchewan provincial government is selling its buildings at the Regina International Airport after the discontinuation of Executive Air. (Wayne Mantyka/CTV News Regina)

REGINA — The provincial government is selling its Executive Air buildings in Regina after the service was discontinued three years ago.

The hangar and passenger facility was home to government flights for nearly 75 years, first for air ambulance then executive flights.

It was used by former premiers and cabinet ministers when boarding government aircraft until 2017, when those flights were stopped.

Bids close on Monday, but there’s a catch: the buildings must be moved or demolished as they sit on property owned by the Regina Airport Authority, who are set to take the land back for a future airport terminal expansion project.

“So when the time does come for the airport to make some modifications to our roadways or to the configuration of our land, we’ll be able to do so quite easily,” said James Bogusz, the president of the airport authority.

“The structures are in good condition,” said Nancy Cherney, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Central Services. “The administration building itself was only constructed and added on in 2006 so in the whole scheme of things, it’s not an old building.”

The hangar was built 90 years ago by the City of Regina and is the last of the original buildings at the airport.

“It goes back to about 1929 when the construction of that hangar was authorized as part of Regina’s new airport. It was needed to accommodate the prairie air mail service that would be starting around that time,” said Will Chabun, a local historian.

Removal of the three buildings may be a little ahead of schedule, as the airport expansion was supposed to begin in 2025 but could be delayed as the airline industry recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.RELATED IMAGES

  • The Saskatchewan provincial government is selling its buildings at the Regina International Airport after the discontinuation of Executive Air. (Wayne Mantyka/CTV News Regina)

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

Regina International Airport asks for federal money to help survive COVID-19 slowdown

News from CBC News – link to story

Airport authority’s traffic has slowed down substantially since pandemic began

David Shield · CBC News · Posted: Jun 03, 2020

Traffic at the Regina International Airport has slowed to a trickle since the COVID-19 pandemic was announced. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

The president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority is asking for federal support to help deal with a massive slowdown in traffic.

“We’re burning through our cash reserves,” James Bogusz said. 

“We’re going to batten down the hatches and weather the storm with some cost cutting measures, to the best of our ability. But we just can’t can’t generate the funds we need right now.”

The authority estimates it will be forced to dip into its line of credit by late summer.

The Regina Airport Authority is a non-profit agency that mainly generates revenues through travel-related fees, including landing fees for airports and parking lot revenue.

In return, the authority uses the money to pay staff and maintain the airport. 

Bogusz said passenger traffic “virtually fell off a cliff” in April, with the airport down 98.2 per cent in passengers year-over-year. 

As a result, the authority is asking for a grant or forgivable loan to help the airport remains viable until passenger traffic picks up, much like what airports in the U.S. recently received.

“Something where we could access money without paying interest, without having to take years to pay it back,” he said. 

“It would take us many, many, many years to pay back millions of dollars of debt to cover operating costs that are here for the betterment of our community and the betterment of southern Saskatchewan.”

Regina-Wascana MP Michael Kram has also begun calling for federal aid for airports. He said the Liberals’ plan for airport lease deferrals does not go far enough.

“Airports are as vital to the nation as highways and railroads,” he said in a news release. 

“By failing to support airports, the federal Liberals are gambling with our country’s ability to rebuild and recover in a post-pandemic world.”

Slow recovery

Meanwhile, the Saskatoon Airport Authority is doing its best to deal with the situation.

Vice-president of business development CJ Dushinski said the airport used to see about 3,000 passengers a day. Now, the terminal sees about 60 to 70 passengers each day.

“It’s a pretty drastic decline in what we’re seeing here,” she said.

According to forecasts, it could take anywhere from a year and a half to three years before air travel returns to 2019 levels.

“It’s not going to be something that we recover from quickly,” said Dushinski.

“It’s going to take time for that confidence in the industry to recover and for people to feel comfortable travelling again.” 

She said the Saskatoon airport is in good shape financially, but that the facility has already looked at reducing the amount of work done by outside contractors.

Ultimately, she said it’s difficult to cut many services.

“Many of our costs are fixed because we are a 24/7 facility,” she said 

“There’s a lot of things we can’t really change.” 

With files from Saskatoon Morning

Snowbirds – 15 May Schedule & 14 May Videos

Friday, May 15, 2020 – Cold Lake to Fort McMurray

The Snowbirds will take off from Cold Lake by around 9:30 a.m and will fly to Fort McMurray via Black Point and La loche following the flightpath below. The team will land at Fort McMurray Airport by around 10:30 a.m.

Friday, May 15, 2020 – Fort McMurray to Edmonton

The Snowbirds will take off from Fort McMurray by around 01:30 p.m and will fly over Morinville by around 2:05 p.m. covering St. Albert, various parts of Edmonton (prioritizing residential neighbourhoods and hospitals) following the flightpath below. The team will land at Edmonton International Airport by around 2:30 p.m.

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.

Regina’s airport sees just 1 to 5 per cent of normal traffic amid pandemic

News from CBC News – link to story

Less customers through the airport is having ripple effect on services, jobs in facility

Bryan Eneas · CBC News · Posted: May 01, 2020

The Regina airport is feeling strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent measures put in place by the government to reduce the spread of the virus. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Regina’s airport is feeling the strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

James Bogusz, president and CEO of the airport authority, said things started to taper off by the middle of March, when measures taken by the federal and provincial governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were coming into place.

“As moved into April we really hit rock bottom,” Bogusz said on CBC Saskatchewan’s Afternoon Edition

“We’re really seeing from one to five per cent of the usual traffic we would have normally seen at pre-COVID levels. Frankly it’s been absolutely devastating.” 

He said it’s an airport’s job to serve the community, not only through providing commercial travel but through cargo, medivacs and other aviation services. 

Bogusz said the airport is a not-for-profit that makes money through passengers and airlines using their facilities. During the pandemic, with limited traffic through its doors, the airport has seen a 90 per cent loss in revenue, he said.

The airport typically staffs 51 full-time employees, with five or six seasonal employees. Eighteen full-time employees have been laid off.

“We’ll certainly beef back up a little bit in the winter when we have snow operations to deal with, but we are in a world where the airport is really almost as if it was 15 years ago,” Bogusz said. 

Because businesses inside the airport rely on passengers going through, their operating hours have had to be reduced. Bogusz said some have had to close or shut down on specific days of the week. 

Bogusz said because the airport is self-funded, it’s hard to offer a break to business tenants, but the agreements they have with the airport could help keep them afloat. 

He said  rent is based on a percentage of their sales, so with less people coming into the airport, the authority is receiving less money from them. He noted the federal government recently announced some concessions for rent, which the airport authority will examine.

Bogusz said the airport has maintained a cash reserve which has given it a small cushion, but going into the summer months the airport may have to find loans to cover its essential operational costs.

Measures needed for consumer confidence to return

Bogusz said aircraft being tightly packed and airports having longer lines are two things that might keep people away. 

Moving ahead, Bogusz said reasonable measures need to be in place that give people confidence to return to airports. 

“We just can’t have people spaced out six feet easily in all areas of their travel experience and I think that’s going to erode some consumer confidence until such time as some of these measures are lifted,” he said. 

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) 

WestJet Update: 13 April ~ Domestic Flight Schedule Changes

From WestJet

DOMESTIC FLIGHT SCHEDULE CHANGES

WestJet is making changes to its domestic flight schedule to address significantly reduced guest demand during the COVID-19 crisis.

While demand remains low and some city pairings have been temporarily removed, we are maintaining critical lifelines to all 38 Canadian airports that we currently operate to, 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.

For guests with travel after April 16 through May 4, we are proactively notifying them of their travel options.

The following city pairs have been temporarily removed:

Vancouver – Fort St. John                 1x daily

Edmonton – Kelowna                        1x daily

Edmonton – Saskatoon                     3x weekly

Edmonton – Regina                           4x weekly

Edmonton – Winnipeg                      1x daily

Bookings and full schedule details are available at westjet.com.

REPATRIATION FLIGHT SCHEDULE

  • Tuesday, April 14 from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto (YYZ), Canada on WestJet’s 737-800.
  • Friday, April 17 from Guatemala City (GUA), Guatemala to Toronto (YYZ), Canada on WestJet’s 737-800.

FLEXIBLE/CHANGE CANCEL POLICY NOW INCLUDES JUNE

  • We continue to offer our guests flexible change/cancel policies for travel in April, May and June with refund to travel bank for use within 24-months.
  • More details on our policies are available here.

AFFECTED FLIGHTS – visit the blog (updated)

‘Ghost town’ airports feeling the pinch as passenger traffic plummets

News from Global News – link to story and updates

BY CONNOR O’DONOVAN GLOBAL NEWS, Posted April 11, 2020

The "arrivals" display at Regina International Airport shows multiple cancelled flights on April 10, 2020. .
 The “arrivals” display at Regina International Airport shows multiple cancelled flights on April 10, 2020. . Derek Putz / Global News

Airports in Saskatchewan and beyond are feeling the financial pinch and asking for government help as the COVID-19 pandemic sends air passenger traffic into a steep descent.

“The passenger side, though, has essentially imploded,” said Regina Airport Authority (RAA) CEO James Bogusz, “so it’s a complete ghost town here at YQR.

“Looking at this week, we have passenger counts of around 15 or 20 people for the entire day. Typically we’d see 3,300-3,500.”

The Regina Airport Authority is serviced on the ground by Air Canada Ground Handling Services and Airport Terminal Services (ATS), among others. Both organizations have had to at least temporarily lay off employees in Canada.
 The Regina Airport Authority is serviced on the ground by Air Canada Ground Handling Services and Airport Terminal Services (ATS), among others. Both organizations have had to at least temporarily lay off employees in Canada. Derek Putz / Global News

Bogusz says the Canadian Airports Council is working with the federal government to find ways to support Canadian airports during the health crisis, while locally his team works to find ways to reduce the RAA’s operating costs. He says those run at around $17 million to $18 million annually.

Thus far, the federal government has announced 10 months of rent relief for a number of Canadian airport authorities.

Bogusz says the RAA has already had to lay off 18 of its 51 full-time staff members, a decision he says was made as the airport “understands its role” in the battle against the pervasive disease.

“The primary reason why we’re here is to help planes land and depart and do the services related to those has really come to almost a halt,” he explained.

Regina Airport Authority CEO James Bogusz said there will be ten days in April on which Air Canada will not operate at all at the facility.
 Regina Airport Authority CEO James Bogusz said there will be ten days in April on which Air Canada will not operate at all at the facility. Derek Putz / Global News

He says many other businesses and vendors at the airport have also had to cease or draw back operations, as passenger airlines reduce the number of flights they operate.

Bugusz says “critical cargo” traffic still frequents the facility.

He said the RAA hopes to be able to rehire all of the laid-off employees.

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.