City officials calling for airlines to resume flights at YQG airport sooner than scheduled
Smaller airport size will reduce risk of transmission, says CEO
The Windsor International Airport has a number of upsides that would make it appealing for airline companies to resume flights at YQG sooner than scheduled, officials said Tuesday.
During a media conference involving airport CEO Mark Galvin and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens — who also serves as YQG board chair — the two discussed "the new normal" for airlines and travellers once flights begin to resume. Since April, all commercial flights to and from YQG have been suspended.
Porter Airlines and Air Canada are scheduled to resume commercial flights out of Windsor in July and September, respectively. On Tuesday, officials said the airport will have PPE, like masks and sanitizer, available for travellers when commercial flights resume.
Galvin said Windsor International Airport has a great opportunity to rebound from the devastating effects of COVID-19 compared to other airports where airlines have suspended service.
"People are going to gravitate toward areas where they feel a little more comfortable. We're in a position to take advantage of our location and provide a less-frenzied environment for travellers," said Galvin.
Galvin said the YQG airport has experienced "leakage" in the local market, as some travellers from Windsor commonly drive across the Canada-U.S. border to fly out of Detroit — but he added the airport will do everything it can "to give passengers a reason to fly in and out of YQG."
"The things that we can do at a smaller terminal in a smaller airport are going to be a little more difficult for a larger airport to do," said Galvin, adding there may be trepidation from some travellers to fly out of Detroit even when the border opens up again as fears around COVID-19 continue.
The value of the American dollar compared to its Canadian counterpart has always been a benefit to YQG airport, as travellers would cross the border from Detroit and fly out of Windsor, Dilkens said, adding that's something the city will refer to when appealing to Air Canada.
People are going to gravitate toward areas where they feel a little more comfortable. We're in a position to take advantage of our location and provide a less-frenzied environment for travellers.- Mark Galvin, CEO of Windsor International Airport
"There are literally millions and millions of people within a 45-minute drive of this airport," said Dilkens.
"[With] the fact that Air Canada has indicated September 8th as a restart date, we think that there's a great business opportunity for them to consider coming back earlier and making sure that YQG is part of the mix earlier than some of the other airports that they've also suspended service to until that time."
Dilkens also said Tuesday that the city is expected to lose a portion of an annual $1 million dividend that the airport normally pays to the municipality since 2015 — because of significant revenue losses caused by the pandemic.