Air travel is about to go through its biggest transformation since 9/11 — and passengers will pay for it

News from the Vancouver Sun – link to story and videos

Gabriel Friedman | Publishing date:Jun 26, 2020 

All airlines have implemented temperature checks, health screening questions and enhanced cleaning. Seat distancing, or leaving the middle seat unoccupied on larger planes, and only booking every other seat on smaller planes, has also become de rigeur. REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR

Nearly two decades after the 9/11 terrorist attacks transformed airports, leading to security barriers where none had existed before, the coronavirus pandemic is once again upending air travel.

This time around, the focus is on health measures, and the use of technology that in theory could make the experience “touchless” and more automated, but could also lead to higher ticket prices.

Air travel is about to go through its biggest transformation since 9/11 — and passengers will pay for it

“We need faster, cleaner, better ways to get through the airport,” Robyn McVicker, vice president of operations and maintenance at Vancouver Airport Authority told the Financial Post. “It’s something that we believe is the future.”

Already, Vancouver airport and others are doubling down on touchless technology that allows passengers to print a baggage ticket and drop their bags off at a self-serve kiosk that eliminates the need to touch or interact with anyone at the airport.

She said her team is already working on a project called “Phoenix” that reimagines “every single process in the airport” using technology, whether that means waiting in line, waiting at the gate and even the need for paper tickets. In the future, McVicker thinks airports will begin using biometric facial scans, so that passengers can glide through the airport in less time, with less waiting.

“The industry has never been more aligned on how do we make things better than it is today,” said McVicker.

There is much at stake in figuring out how to bring air travel back. Airports across the country are already facing sharp declines in revenue. Even with widespread layoffs, some airports are looking to raise money by increasing the fees that passengers pay, or borrowing, just to support the costs of their overhead.

An empty check-in counter at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. REUTERS/CARLOS OSORIO

Nathan Janzen, a senior economist with the Royal Bank of Canada, said that aspects of the economy “that require people to congregate” will be the slowest to recover.

But he said airports form a crucial backbone to the economy, allowing people to travel to a region, facilitating investment in businesses and allowing a freer flow of goods.

“Those are the kinds of things that can be a structural impediment to a longer term to medium term recovery, if you don’t figure out a way to make them work,” Janzen said.

The drop in air travel has been dramatic. One day in mid-June, about 5,000 people arrived or departed on a flight out of the Vancouver International Airport — about 97 per cent less than the 75,000 people that would normally service the airport.

Across the country, other airports, big and small, are experiencing similar situations. In Calgary, for example, about 1,000 passengers were travelling on a day when normally there would be 24,500 passengers.

Toronto’s Pearson Airport reported a 97 per cent drop in passenger traffic in April.

At Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport, around 350 people travelled through compared to nearly 13,000 on average at this time in prior years.

“But that’s really good news,” said Barry Rempel, president and chief executive of Winnipeg Airports Authority, “because we had days, for example, the 6th of May, we had fewer than a hundred people boarding.”

Rempel is hopeful that as federal and provincial authorities relax social distancing guidelines, air travel will slowly pick up again, but he knows that regional airports such as the one in Winnipeg will likely trail airports that have a more international flight list.

In any case, no one is under any illusion that air travel will snap back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.

In March, the country’s airlines gradually suspended most or in some cases all of their flights as federal and provincial health authorities issued new rules to contain the spread of COVID-19, in a move that corresponded with tens of thousands of layoffs.

Toronto-based Porter Airlines stopped flying altogether and still has no plans to resume flights until July 29 at the earliest.

Montreal-based Air Transat has said it plans to resume flying on July 23 after a four-month hiatus.

Calgary-based Westjet has said it is only flying five per cent of its schedule, and is not releasing a schedule beyond Aug. 5.

Montreal-based Air Canada has reduced its flight schedule by 85 to 90 per cent. A The company says it’s hopeful that it will see a recovery, which would mean that its flight schedule would only be reduced by 75 per cent.

All airlines have implemented temperature checks, health screening questions and enhanced cleaning. Seat distancing, or leaving the middle seat unoccupied on larger planes, and only booking every other seat on smaller planes, has also become de rigeur.

Transport Canada also requires all passengers at least two years old to bring their own face mask and wear it throughout the duration of the flight.

Despite these measures, people aren’t travelling.

“The airport’s not a comfortable place these days,” said Rempel. “It’s a welcoming building, but it’s empty.”

Alberta Health Services staff meet airline passengers entering the International arrivals area at the Calgary International Airport where they are directed to a new COVID-19 screening area. JIM WELLS/POSTMEDIA

To coax people back into airports, he said staff are taking extra precautions — hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the building and the staff to passenger ratio is high enough that every single screen can be immediately cleaned after it’s used.

They have even installed a new technology that cleans the escalator handrail on a constant basis.

“Think of it as a bath that the handrail goes through every time it makes a circuit,” said Rempel. “That’s the kind of thing we’re doing.”

Still, Rempel said his revenues are currently about three per cent of normal. While the Winnipeg Airport Authority slashed capital spending plans from $175 million to $7 million, Rempel has also applied to raise the airportimprovement fee’ that every passenger pays as part of their ticket fare, from $25 to $38.

“If traffic comes back next year — it won’t, I believe — then we’ll be reducing that,” he said, adding that otherwise the increase should help sustain the airport through  2024 or 2025, by which time he expects air travel to resume to normal levels.

While the federal government has waived the lease payments that airports pay until December — which typically amount to between 11-12 per cent of total revenues,  according to several airport executives interviewed for this article — Rempel said it will not be enough to save his airport.

Reid Fiest, a spokesman for Calgary Airports Authority, said his company is hoping the federal waiver is extended for four or five years so airports can manage their debt.

“We’re doing a lot to try and make people feel comfortable and that it’s safe to travel,” said Fiest, adding he expects it could take three to five years, “but there is still a lot of uncertainty.”

The simple reality is no one knows when air travel will return.

“It’s the billion-dollar question,” said McVicker. “The reality is forecasting is a voodoo science right now.”

Passengers near Manitoba COVID-19 case on June flights now told to self-isolate

News from CBC News – link to story

No new cases of COVID-19 announced in Manitoba on Thursday; province has 16 active cases

Aidan Geary · CBC News · Posted: Jul 02, 2020

COVID-19 samples at the B.C Centre for Disease Control lab in this April file photo. No new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Some passengers on Air Canada flights last month are now being advised to self-isolate because they are considered close contacts of a COVID-19 case identified earlier this week in Manitoba, the province said Thursday.

No new cases of COVID-19 in the province were announced on Thursday, with a total of 16 active cases in the province.

The daily news release did, however, update a warning from earlier this week about a passenger who travelled by plane three times in June and tested positive for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the province advised passengers on the flights to simply self-monitor for symptoms. However, on Thursday, that advice was updated to instruct passengers in affected rows to self-isolate for 14 days following the flight.

The province’s advisory includes:

  • June 18: Air Canada flight AC 295, from Winnipeg to Vancouver, rows 19-25.
  • June 21: Air Canada flight AC 122 from Vancouver to Toronto, rows not yet determined.
  • June 23: Air Canada flight AC 259, from Toronto to Winnipeg, rows 24 to 30.

People who were on those flights and in those rows are considered close contacts of the case, the province said. They are advised to self-isolate for 14 days from the time of the flight and monitor for symptoms.

If you were on the flight but not in the affected rows, you should self-monitor for symptoms, the province said.

In the past week, 10 new cases of COVID-19 have been announced in Manitoba. Eight of them were in the Winnipeg health region, according to provincial data, and the remaining two were in the Southern Health region.

At least four of the cases were linked to the trucking industry.

As of Thursday, 302 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Manitoba, the province said Thursday.

A total of 325 confirmed or probable cases have been identified in the province since the pandemic began, and seven Manitobans have died.

No one is currently in hospital or in intensive care for COVID-19, the province said.

On Wednesday, 512 tests were completed, with a further 503 tests on Tuesday. That brings Manitoba’s total to 64,329 tests since early February.

Self-isolation rules still apply to N.W.T, Nunavut residents travelling by air to Yukon

News from CBC News – link to story

Self-isolation is only waived for those that can come straight to Yukon through B.C.

Anna Desmarais · CBC News · Posted: Jul 02, 2020

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley at a COVID-19 press conference regarding the start of the territory’s Phase 2 recovery plan on July 1. (Government of Yukon)

Northerners travelling to Yukon via southern airports outside of British Columbia will still have to self-isolate upon arrival, according to Yukon Premier Sandy Silver.  

On July 1, premier Silver extended the Yukon-B.C. travel bubble to include those from the N.W.T and Nunavut — only if they travel from their territory to Yukon or through British Columbia. 

Data from Google Flights shows that all Air Canada flights from Yellowknife to Whitehorse will have layovers either in Edmonton or Calgary, Alta., on route to Vancouver. Flights from Iqaluit to Whitehorse often travel through Ottawa or Winnipeg to get to the territory. 

In those cases, Premier Silver said northern residents arriving by air with layovers in provinces like Ontario and Alberta will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. 

‘Making our decisions … not just on geography’

“We’re making our decisions not necessarily just on geography or ease of getting here but also epidemiology,” Silver told reporters.

“At this time, we … are opening ourselves as well, knowing full well that it’s pretty hard for someone to come directly from Nunavut into Yukon.”

The N.W.T announced a new travel bubble with Nunavut on June 12 as part of its Phase 2 reopening plans. The move struck down the self-isolation requirement for people travelling between the territories.

Yukon was initially excluded from the travel bubble because of its plans to loosen self-isolation requirements with British Columbia. 

N.W.T. residents are still required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return from Yukon. 

Premier recommends reserving charters 

Silver said the travel bubble would directly benefit residents of Fort McPherson, N.W.T. — the closest community to Yukon along the Dempster Highway.

Residents of Tsiigehtchic, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., are also able to drive directly into Yukon via the Dempster.

Communities in the Dehcho, including Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte and Fort Simpson, N.W.T., would also be able to travel into Yukon through British Columbia without having to self-isolate. People looking to drive into B.C. through the N.W.T.’s Highway 7 will have to make an appointment to cross the border either on a Tuesday or Friday. 

But, Silver continued, travel to Yukon from other parts of the territories “isn’t impossible.” He recommended that people consider chartering flights if necessary, but reinforced the message that travel should still be limited into the territory. 

“You could charter from Inuvik or smaller communities and you’d be allowed to if you could come in,” Silver said. 

Anyone travelling to Yukon is asked to go to Yukon.ca to figure out if they meet the self-isolation requirements. 

No direct flights to Whitehorse until mid-August

Air North, Yukon’s main commercial airline, wrote on its website that its Whitehorse-Yellowknife-Ottawa route will be starting up again on Aug. 15. Once that flight is available, northerners could fly from Yellowknife to Whitehorse without having to self-isolate. 

Kelly Lewis, a spokesperson for Canadian North, said in a statement that the N.W.T.’s main commercial airline will not be adding any direct flights between Yellowknife and Whitehorse during the northern travel bubble, because Yukon’s capital city is not in their purview. 

Canadian North is, however, adding a new flight from Yellowknife to the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut that will help residents travel between the N.W.T and Nunavut, Lewis said. The popular Yellowknife-Rankin Inlet route will not be reinstated in the meantime based on recommendations from the Nunavut government — but Lewis said they’re looking into it. 

“We understand that this is a routing that some people would like to see return so we will look at options to do so when the time is right,” the statement reads. 

‘Not entirely a bubble’ 

Julian MacLean, a dietitian living in Inuvik, will be one of the first people taking advantage of the new northern travel bubble this weekend. 

MacLean said he’s making the time to do the hours-long, 1,200-kilometre drive down the Dempster Highway to Whitehorse to do some vehicle maintenance and grocery shopping before a possible second COVID-19 wave.

“Restrictions will probably get tighter again, so if I don’t go now, I probably wont be able to go later,” MacLean told CBC. 

Maclean said his employer is letting him take the self-isolation time in the N.W.T. upon arrival as leave — but for many others, the N.W.T.’s self-isolation requirements upon return make travel less appealing.

Winnipeg’s Richardson International offers a new kind of airport screening

News from The Globe and Mail – link to story

KAREN BURSHTEIN, SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL | JUNE 30, 2020

Winnipeggers watch a film at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport as part of the CAA Summer Drive-In Series.WINNIPEG AIRPORTS AUTHORITY

While some airports across the globe are more active than common sense and science say they should be at this time, many others have seen traffic plunge during the pandemic. The crisis caused activity at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, for instance, to drop 98 per cent. “We normally see 25,000 passengers on average a day,” said Tyler MacAfee, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Airports Authority. “At one point, we were down to a hundred people.”

By mid-June, YWG again started to fill up with the kinds of people you normally find at an airport: those planning to reconnect with others or seeking some escapism. Except these folks weren’t flying anywhere. Just going to the movies.

On June 11, the airport’s empty economy parking lot was transformed into a pop-up drive-in movie theatre. Local business AVentPro partnered with CAA Manitoba and the airport authority, which allocated space for about 200 cars. Films are shown on a nine-by-five-metre, high-definition LED screen, tickets and snacks are prepaid, and audio comes through a local FM radio station. The pre-ordered snacks from an on-site food truck are delivered to cars by volunteers, and the stars, not planes, light the sky above – one of the delights of a drive-in movie, as those old enough to remember them will say.

Crews install the LED screen used to screen films at the pop-up drive-in.WINNIPEG AIRPORTS AUTHORITY

The flicks aren’t first-runs but rather familiar fare such as Date Night and the kid-friendly Monsters Inc. – as well as Phantom of the Paradise, the 1974 movie that flopped almost everywhere on Earth but became and remains a cult hit in the Peg. (Major theatres are still keeping new releases for their planned reopenings. Manitoba, which has had low COVID-19 infection numbers throughout the pandemic, went into Phase 2 on June 1 with restaurants offering limited seating in addition to patio service. Movie theatres are slated to reopen in the coming weeks.)

Still, opening night was a welcome distraction from quarantine fatigue for the hundreds who showed up. MacAfee said the WAA wasn’t looking to recoup any revenue lost in the pandemic. “We are not approaching this as a revenue opportunity. We looked at it as a way to support an initiative, a great way to get out with your family.” Some profits were slated for charities.

The airport authority allocated room for about 200 cars to attend.WINNIPEG AIRPORTS AUTHORITY

Across the world, other airports have similarly been getting creative with their empty venues. Ontario Airport in California announced that it, too, is converting unused airport space into a drive-in theatre for four weekend nights. Last month, Lithuania’s Vilnius Airport converted its tarmac into a drive-in, teaming up with the annual Vilnius International Film Festival. In Uruguay, Montevideo’s international airport is showing films nightly.

Other airports have come up with feel-good ventures that also manage to underline the melancholy of the times. In March, a check-in area at Stuttgart airport became a concert venue with one-on-one performances; classical music soloists played to one seated, physically distanced audience member.

In Montreal, from July 3-5, Trudeau International Airport’s employee parking lot will be given over to FAUV, the Festival au Volant (Drive-in Festival), devoted to stand-up comedy. For some Montrealers, this replaces the Just For Laughs/Juste Pour Rire festival, one of the city’s most popular summertime events. (The organizers of FAUV, Sportera, are not affiliated with Just For Laughs.) Local comedians are in the lineup, naturally, as no one is flying in. Snacks from on-site food trucks will be brought to your car. Passes start at $60 for a two-person vehicle. A portion of the profits is earmarked for the local charity Fondation Les Impatients.

All this entertaining repurposing of airport spaces belies the fact that at the onset of the pandemic, when it was spreading across countries like a wildfire, airports became part of the war effort. Some were used as urgent-care facilities. Areas at Istanbul Ataturk Airport were turned into field hospitals. Glasgow’s and Edinburgh’s airports were used as drive-through COVID-19 testing sites. A hangar at Birmingham, England’s about-to-open airport was offered as a morgue for pandemic victims.

As airports start to reopen for their primary purpose, and travellers are faced with a new normal, new design strategies will need to be put in place to curb infections. Travel has played a key role in the spread of the virus, so airports have a special obligation to help curb its spread. The parking lots that are now hosting movies will probably become places to meet and greet loved ones, because it’s unlikely non-passengers will be allowed inside terminals.

But for now empty airports are thankfully allowing us to enjoy a night out at a show.

Air Canada Discontinues Service on 30 Domestic Regional Routes and Closes Eight Stations in Canada

From Air Canada

Regional flying rationalized due to COVID-19 and government travel restrictions, part of airline’s Cost Reduction Program to reduce cash burn

MONTREAL, June 30, 2020  /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada said today that it is indefinitely suspending service on 30 domestic regional routes and closing eight stations at regional airports in Canada. 

These structural changes to Air Canada’s domestic regional network are being made as a result of continuing weak demand for both business and leisure travel due to COVID-19 and provincial and federal government-imposed travel restrictions and border closures, which are diminishing prospects for a near-to-mid-term recovery.

As the company has previously reported, Air Canada expects the industry’s recovery will take a minimum of three years. As a consequence, other changes to its network and schedule, as well as further service suspensions, will be considered over the coming weeks as the airline takes steps to decisively reduce its overall cost structure and cash burn rate.

A full list of route suspensions and station closures is below.

As a result of COVID-19, Air Canada reported a net loss of $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2020, including a net cash-burn in March of $688 million. The carrier has undertaken a range of structural changes including significant cost savings and liquidity measures, of which today’s announced service suspensions form part. Other measures include:

  • A workforce reduction of approximately 20,000 employees, representing more than 50 per cent of its staff, achieved through layoffs, severances, early retirements and special leaves;
  • A company-wide Cost Reduction and Capital Deferral Program, that has to date identified around $1.1 billion in savings;
  • A reduction of its system-wide capacity by approximately 85 per cent in the second quarter compared to last year’s second quarter and an expected third quarter capacity reduction of at least 75% from the third quarter of 2019;
  • The permanent removal of 79 aircraft from its mainline and Rouge fleets;
  • And raising approximatively $5.5 billion in liquidity since March 13, 2020, through a series of debt, aircraft and equity financings.

Further initiatives are being considered.

Route Suspensions

The following routes will be suspended indefinitely as per applicable regulatory notice requirements. Affected customers will be contacted by Air Canada and offered options, including alternative routings where available.

Maritimes/Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Deer Lake-Goose Bay;
  • Deer Lake-St. John’s;
  • Fredericton-Halifax;
  • Fredericton-Ottawa;
  • Moncton-Halifax;
  • Saint John-Halifax;
  • Charlottetown-Halifax;
  • Moncton-Ottawa;
  • Gander-Goose Bay;
  • Gander-St. John’s;
  • Bathurst-Montreal;
  • Wabush-Goose Bay;
  • Wabush-Sept-Iles;
  • Goose Bay-St. John’s.

Quebec/Ontario:

  • Baie Comeau-Montreal;
  • Baie Comeau-Mont Joli;
  • Gaspé-Iles de la Madeleine;
  • Gaspé-Quebec City;
  • Sept-Iles-Quebec City;
  • Val d’Or-Montreal;
  • Mont Joli-Montreal;
  • Rouyn-Noranda-Val d’Or;
  • Kingston-Toronto;
  • London-Ottawa;
  • North Bay-Toronto
  • Windsor-Montreal

Western Canada: 

  • Regina-Winnipeg;
  • Regina-Saskatoon;
  • Regina-Ottawa;
  • Saskatoon-Ottawa.

Station Closures

The following are the Regional Airports where Air Canada is closing its stations:

  • Bathurst (New Brunswick)
  • Wabush (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Gaspé (Quebec)
  • Baie Comeau (Quebec)
  • Mont Joli (Quebec)
  • Val d’Or (Quebec)
  • Kingston (Ontario)
  • North Bay (Ontario)

Winnipeg Airports Authority lays off 25 per cent of staff as air travel drops

News from CBC News – link to story

35 positions cut either permanently or temporarily, spokesperson says

Caitlyn Gowriluk · CBC News · Posted: Jun 19, 2020

A person walks through the empty Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport in March. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The Winnipeg Airports Authority is laying off one-quarter of its staff in Winnipeg, citing the drastic drop in air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic — but the union representing some of those employees says the corporation its violating its collective agreement.

The cuts amount to losing 35 positions, although only 28 were filled at the time of the layoffs, said Tyler MacAfee, vice-president of communications and government relations for the corporation.

Of those, 22 positions are unionized with the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Union Of Canadian Transportation Employees Local 50600.

Six of those people were permanently laid off, and 16 were laid off with the possibility of being called back to their positions within a year, he said.

A spokesperson for the union said the corporation offered unionized employees options that could minimize job losses. Those options, which included pay cuts, were rejected by the employees because they didn’t come with a guarantee of avoiding layoffs.

“The membership said that they were not prepared to take those concessions without some sort of guarantee that it would minimize job loss. And the following morning the employer issued a layoff notice for all employees,” said Marianne Hladun, regional executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s prairie region.

Union vice-president Marianne Hladun said the Public Service Alliance of Canada has filed grievances with the Winnipeg Airports Authority because the corporation is violating provisions of its collective agreement, including notification periods and severance amounts. (CBC)

“[The employees] were willing to contribute to ensuring the success of the airport, [but] they’re really disappointed in management’s response.”

Hladun said the union filed grievances because the corporation is violating provisions of its collective agreement with the unionized employees, including notification periods and severance amounts. If those matter aren’t resolved internally, they’ll be sent to arbitration, she said.

“We recognize [these are] unprecedented times, but we also believe that whatever measures we put before our members needs to be related to the pandemic and needs to have an end date and needs to clearly identify that by accepting those, it would minimize impact on our members and their families,” she said. “To date, we’ve not seen an offer of that sort.”

Hladun said the job cuts affect positions including airside operations, administration and trades.

Temporary layoffs could turn permanent

“It’s really kind of balanced across the board,” MacAfee told CBC Radio Noon host Emily Brass on Friday. “We’ve had to take a look at the company as well and say, ‘Are all those positions that we needed for a 4.5-million-passenger airport still required for the size that we’re going to be today and in the foreseeable future?'”

He said with the slowdown in air travel it has seen, Winnipeg’s airport will be “fortunate” if it gets 2 million passengers by the end of the year.

Spokesperson Tyler MacAfee said the cuts amount to losing 35 positions, although only 28 were filled at the time of the layoffs. (Warren Kay/CBC)

MacAfee said 13 non-union positions were also affected by the layoffs. Two of those were permanently laid off, two went into early retirements and the rest were vacancies (like temporary replacements for employees on maternity leave) that will not be filled, he said.

MacAfee said the corporation, which manages the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, sent notices about the layoffs two weeks ago. He said it’s still possible some of the temporary job losses could become permanent.

“It’s entirely possible, based on where the industry goes,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk about a second wave [of COVID-19], what impact that could have on air traffic.”

Remaining non-unionized employees also took pay cuts ranging from 16 to 50 per cent to avoid further layoffs, MacAfee said.

He said it could be three or four years before air travel numbers rebound.

With files from Pat Kaniuga

Smokes on a plane: Surrey, BC man arrested after lighting cigarette mid-flight, forcing landing in Winnipeg

News from City News 1130 – link to story

BY HANA MAE NASSAR Posted Jun 18, 2020

FILE: A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

WINNIPEG (NEWS 1130) – A man from Surrey has been arrested and charged after he’s said to have refused to wear a face mask and lit a cigarette during a flight.

The 60-year-old’s actions forced the plane to divert to Winnipeg last Sunday. He was met by Winnipeg International Airport RCMP officers, who had been called to reports of an “unruly passenger.”

“The man was arrested without incident,” the RCMP says.

The plane he was on was flying from Vancouver to Toronto when it was forced to land.

The man has been charged with Mischief Over $5,000, smoking onboard an aircraft, and failing to comply with instructions from the flight crew.

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.

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Winnipeg airport to host pop-up drive-in theatre in parking lot amid COVID-19

News from Global News – link to story

BY SAM THOMPSON GLOBAL NEWS | June 8, 2020

A drive-in movie screen is being installed at Winnipeg's airport.
 A drive-in movie screen is being installed at Winnipeg’s airport. Randall Paull / Global News

Soon there will be more to watch at Winnipeg’s airport than just planes.

The Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport announced Monday that with travel temporarily restricted due to COVID-19, its economy parking lot will host a pop-up movie theatre with a nine-by-five-metre HD screen.

The nightly events, part of the airport’s CAA Summer Summer Drive-In Series, kick off Thursday with a screening of the 2010 Steve Carrell and Tina Fey comedy Date Night.

“As an organization, we believe strongly in supporting the community and facilitating innovative ideas that can create a positive impact,” said Winnipeg Airports Authority president and CEO Barry Rempel.

“We look forward to the airport being the backdrop to this event and being part of something that will help spread joy during this difficult time.”

The airport’s drive-in opens Thursday.
 The airport’s drive-in opens Thursday. Randall Paull / Global News

The drive-in series will fall in line with the province’s social-distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and will include contactless concession delivery right to moviegoers’ vehicles.

Tickets will go on sale Wednesday to the public, with a pre-sale Monday afternoon for members of sponsor CAA Manitoba.

“At CAA, we are always looking for ways to make our members’ days better, and what better way than a pop-up drive-in movie theatre to bring us together at a distance,” said CAA Manitoba president Tim Scott.

Showtimes and ticket info will be available online.

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

News from CBC News – link to story

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

CBC News · Posted: Jun 01, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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