Calgary airport faces $67M deficit this year
Airport calls on federal government to extend rent payment freeze for 5 years
The Calgary International Airport is facing a $67-million deficit this year thanks to the unprecedented drop in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
It's asking the federal government for financial assistance.
"Every day we open we bleed ... [but] we have to stay open. This is a vital infrastructure asset, we have no choice," said airport authority president Bob Sartor following its annual general meeting on Tuesday.
Last year, 18 million passengers travelled through the airport. This year, the airport is expecting that number to drop to 6.4 million.
Sartor said the airport was expecting $460 million in revenue this year, but it will likely end the year with $200 million.
That revenue is largely thanks to a 17 per cent increase in cargo business, driven by ecommerce and PPE shipments.
Passenger traffic was down 97 per cent in April, 95 per cent in May and 90 per cent in June.
The airport operates as a non-profit that receives no federal funding and pays tens-of-millions in rent each year.
Ottawa has frozen rent for this year, but the airport is asking for that freeze to be extended for five years, as well as interest-free loans and funding for capital projects like a needed replacement of its aging west runway.
Sartor said even with that financial assistance, there will likely be a need for user fees to increase.
He said one of the largest factors in airport revenue recovery will be what happens with the U.S. border closure and if that country is able to flatten the curve of new cases.
"If people see that you're not getting 100,000 new cases per day, and you don't have this kind of staggering growth people will say, 'OK ... maybe it will be safer to travel,'" he said.
With files from Dave Gilson