Airplane traffic is very little and far between at London International Airport in the middle COVID-19 pandemic, but coming next month that will change.
Airport officials say Air Canada, which has not flown to or out of London, Ontario, over the past few weeks, will start offering two daily flights to Toronto starting June 22.
The impact of coronavirus on air travel is evident when you consider that pre-pandemic, nine Air Canada flights leave London every day to Toronto, in addition to two flights to Ottawa and one to Montreal.
“We have switched from 2,500 passengers per day to a few days … yesterday we had 25 passengers – 10 left and 15 came,” said Mike Seabrook, president and CEO of the airport.
WestJet continues to operate passenger services outside the airport, albeit with fewer flights – about four weeks – all to Toronto, Seabrook said. The airline is expected to raise the number to one day starting in July.
Despite the lack of passenger services, the airport is not entirely deserted thanks to Medevac, Cargo, and company departures, along with occasional public airline flights – “people who like to fly for fun.”
“But it’s really slow,” Seabrook said. “So, we are waiting for the community to return to normalcy and the return of flying activities.”
Returns to normal cannot arrive soon.
Following a record-breaking passenger traffic year in 2019, airport revenues are expected to halve by 2020 due to a pandemic.
Seabrook, however, is optimistic.
“There is still demand here in our market, and we will get this back when people return to levels that will support longer trips.”
Seabrook said the airport had experienced voluntary layoffs due to a pandemic, but instead had retained most of its crew with assistance from the Emergency Wage Subsidy Program.
“We have made all our crew work, presumably, in two crew at separate times, maintaining separation, “he said. “We managed to keep everyone busy.”
Workers have used traffic scarcity over the past few weeks as an opportunity to tidy up the airport, repair the main parking lot, paint the inside of the terminal, and replace asphalt on the taxiway.
With closed borders and applicable travel restrictions, the aviation industry, like many other industries, has been hit by a heavy pandemic, with airlines spending cash as aircraft remain landing and maintenance and airport costs rising.
Two weeks ago, Air Canada announced it would lay off around 20,000 employees after reporting a first-quarter loss of more than $ 1 billion after cutting its flight capacity by more than 90 percent.
Air Canada has laid off at least half of its workforce
Last week, the company said it would increase its summer schedule, which remained more than 50 percent less than last year.
WestJet, meanwhile, has canceled tens of thousands of flights, including all US and international routes, until July 4, and has shed around 9,000 workers, according to a company spokesman.
“Speaking with the airline, obviously, they were very careful, “Seabrook said about restarting flights.” If they operate their aircraft in an empty or almost empty space, they lose more money than if the plane had just been parked. “
“But they see positive signs in terms of demand, “he said. “People do have to travel.”
“There are segments of the community that are just traveling for fun, but we have to go around … So there is a hidden demand and we just hope that the tap is turned on quickly enough.”
The International Air Transportation Association estimates that global revenue will decrease by US $ 314 billion this year, or 55 percent, from 2019.
– with files from The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
to request modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]