Sudbury·Audio

Sudbury airport sees major drop in airport passenger traffic

An official with the Greater Sudbury Airport says they are doing what they can to keep the operation going, as the pandemic flattens air travel the world over.

We're looking at all avenues for revenue generation that doesn't rely on on passenger traffic

Passenger travel is down 70 per cent at the Greater Sudbury Airport, an official says. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

An official with the Greater Sudbury Airport says they are doing what they can to keep the operation going, as the pandemic flattens air travel the world over.

Marketing director Jean-Mathieu Chenier, says they're cutting costs, including not hiring seasonal workers, as they normally would this time of year.

"We're delaying some capital works that we've had to do. Unfortunately, there's still a high level of fixed costs. The aviation industry is one of the most regulated industries in Canada. And so that does bring with it a high level of fixed costs," he said. 

"We're looking at all avenues for revenue generation that doesn't rely on passenger traffic."

Chenier says about 70 per cent fewer passengers are coming through the Sudbury airport. There used to be several Air Canada round trip flight to Toronto every day, but now there's just one each day.

"Every airport right now is, as always, concerned about reduction in service to their airport," he said.

"The mining sector has remained relatively strong, and so I think that is driving some of the traffic. Additionally, Sudbury is a major hub when it comes to medical services and that sort of thing. So I think that we will survive this and maintain, at the very least, one flight. But, you know, no one really can tell."

Chenier notes the Sudbury airport is a member of the Regional Community Airports of Canada, and the Canadian Airports Council, which continue "to lobby the government for financial support and assistance in order to keep the lights on, figuratively and literally, when it comes to airports."

"Unfortunately, many of the smaller airports tend to be connected in some way, shape or form to the municipality and don't always qualify for the programs that other businesses would qualify for."

In a news release issued on Tuesday Canadian Airports Council president Daniel-Robert Gooch said the sector is "in a crisis situation, and there is no time to waste"

They are asking Canada's new Minister of transport, Omar Alghabra, to implement and enhance "the financial relief and regional access programs already announced by the government."

The are also asking the minister to expand the pilot COVID testing programs at airports, "with the hope that they can be tied to reduced quarantine requirements, once safety concerns have been met."

The Sudbury airport says it's a precarious balance to stay open during a pandemic when everyone is being told to stop travelling. Jean-Mathieu Chenier, the Director of Marketing for Greater Sudbury Airport, joined us to talk about how the airport will manage to survive. 8:28

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