PEI

Travelling light: Lack of activity 'surreal' at Charlottetown Airport, CEO says

The CEO of the Charlottetown Airport says the federal government's fiscal update is a good first step for the airline industry, but more details are needed.

Newson hoping airline industry recovers sooner rather than later

Airport CEO Doug Newson is confident the airline industry will recover from the global pandemic. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

There is no luggage coming off the conveyer belt, nobody in Hawaiian shirts lining up for a trip south and no belt buckles setting off the metal detector.

It's been quiet at Charlottetown Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the day when there are no flights coming and going. 

"It's really surreal, to be honest," said airport CEO Doug Newson. "If you come here during the day, typically the lights are out, there are very few people here. The few flights that we do have are in the evening, so you know, we're basically down to one flight a day."

It all translates to about a 90 per cent decrease in traffic over last year, which is why Newson and other airport executives were watching the federal government's fiscal update closely on Monday night.

Newson says the lights are often off at the airport during the day. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Ottawa is offering around $1 billion for airports, airport infrastructure and regional airlines. A good start, Newson said, but more details are needed to see how helpful those programs will be in the long run.  

"The devil's always in the details with some of these programs and so we just want to see ... how are we eligible, what are the mechanics, what are the specifics of these sorts of the program so that we can capitalize on them."

Newson said the industry is resilient and he is confident it will recover from the global pandemic, but for airports to be healthy, it needs healthy airlines. The sooner that can be resolved, the better, he said.

There is not much luggage coming off the conveyer belt at Charlottetown Airport these days. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"The big uncertainty is, obviously, what does the airline industry look like coming out of this?" he said.

"We want to make sure they get the supports they require as well so that we have a viable airline industry for our passengers."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Sheehan Desjardins

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