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Ottawa Airport sees 'devastating decline' following COVID-19 travel restrictions
OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Airport says it has halted spending on capital programs and that some destinations served before the pandemic may not return as it outlined the toll COVID-19 travel restrictions have taken on operations.
In a teleconference Friday, airport President and CEO Mark Laroche said it would likely take years to build passenger numbers back to 2019 levels.
"I cannot realistically promise that all 45 destinations served by YOW before the pandemic will return quickly, including our European air service," Laroche said. "I can guarantee, however, that we will continue to work closely with each airline to rebuild our service as quickly as economically viable for our airlines."
The airport has seen a "devastating decline in aircraft movements to approximately five to 10 per cent of what they were at this time last year," Laroche said.
With some airlines trying to keep connections with key hubs open, some flights remain on the schedule but are either flying nearly empty or end up being cancelled.
Normally the airport would see about 100 departures per day—it's now down to 10 to 15.
On March 31st, for example, the airport says it had 13 departures with approximately 430 passengers listed, though some may not have actually travelled. That's in stark contrast to a typical 7,000 passengers departing every day.
The airport has halted spending on capital programs by at least $35 million, which has a significant impact on the economic activity in the region.
The terminal concession rollout, scheduled over two or more years, will now take significantly longer and may look different from the original plan as many of the brands that were part of it are also impacted by COVID-19.
Construction of the Alt Hotel at the airport will also be delayed by at least six months, though Laroche said he believes Germain Hotels are committed to moving forward eventually.
Laroche said the airport will access programs offered by the federal government when it comes to rent relief and wage program.
Laroche said while some employees are being tested for COVID-19, none has so far tested positive.