Even fewer passenger flights will take off and land at Winnipeg Airport as a result of federal travel restrictions that take effect next week.
As of 10:59 pm CST on February 3, all international passenger, private and charter flights, including those from the US, will pass through Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal airports only. Cargo flights are exempt.
Meanwhile, Canada’s major airlines, Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat, have agreed to cancel flights to the Caribbean and Mexico until the end of April.
The federal government is also introducing a quarantine rule in which international travelers will be screened for COVID-19 upon arrival at one of four Canadian airports, then pay to isolate themselves in a government-approved hotel until results are obtained. .
“It is disappointing for Winnipeg, where we are seeing four airports that are going to have that service and we are no longer going to have that in Winnipeg,” said Tyler MacAfee, vice president of communications and government relations for the Winnipeg Airport Authority.
“We have hotels here in Winnipeg that could certainly do what they are doing in those cities.”
Delta Air Lines still serves a flight between Winnipeg and Minneapolis, Minn., But that service will be cut off in the next few days, MacAfee said.
The travel restrictions are aimed at reducing the import cases of COVID-19 variants, first detected in the UK and South Africa. The variants are more transmissible, and potentially more deadly, than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Some cases of COVID-19 variants have already been discovered in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. The UK variant, also known as the B117 variant, could significantly hamper Ontario’s ability to slow the spread of COVID-19, a new model suggests.
Manitoba has also closed its borders for the same reason. Starting Friday, most travelers arriving in Manitoba must self-isolate for two weeks.
Passenger traffic plummets at YWG
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impeded passenger traffic at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.
Passenger traffic from October 2020 to December 2020 was down nearly 87% compared to the same stretch in 2019, according to fourth-quarter results released Friday by the Winnipeg Airport Authority.
Last fall’s traffic was also down 27 percent compared to the previous quarter, the statement said.
However, cargo traffic is increasing. Shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive through the Winnipeg airport, but many packages do as well, the statement said.
In the last quarter of 2020, the number of cargo planes landing at Winnipeg airport increased by 7.5 percent compared to the same period in 2019, the statement said.
Although the figures have not yet been audited, the airport authority reports revenue of $ 14.4 million last quarter, a steady drop of $ 33.9 million in the same period of 2019.
The airline industry, including Winnipeg airport, has tried to make air travel safer for passengers during the pandemic, MacAfee said, citing mask mandates, stricter cleaning regimes and the installation of ultraviolet lights on stairways. mechanical.
But with more restrictions in place to discourage the public from traveling, airports need financial support to stay afloat, he said.
“It’s not as simple as flipping a switch and saying, ‘OK, now everything starts over,'” MacAfee said. “It’s going to take time.”
It can also be difficult to get flight paths back into service once they are suspended, he added.