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Airport passenger numbers still down drastically due to COVID-19

Gordon Duke president and CEO of the Prince George Airport Authority

COVID-19 continues to impact air travel as passenger numbers at the Prince George Airport (YXS) for the month of May show a continued decline. Last month, 1,910 passengers came through our airport, compared to 42,537 in May of last year. This is the second straight month YXS has seen a 95 per cent reduction in passenger activity.

“We continue to cut costs where we can, look for new revenue generating opportunities and lobby all levels of government for financial help,” said Gordon Duke, President and CEO of the Prince George Airport Authority. “Over the last month, we have presented our situation to our local MLAs, members of parliament, the mayor and senior administration, the BC Chamber of Commerce and others. We will share our story with whomever will listen and advocate for our sector. We are a not-for-profit corporation and we will play a significant role in kickstarting the Prince George and regional economy in a post COVID world.”

Information provided by the Canadian Airports Council suggests full recovery in the aviation sector will take five years to get to pre-COVID passenger service levels. In the interim, Canadian airports will need financial assistance to ensure maintenance and renewal of critical infrastructure is not delayed.

COVID-19 not only impacts the airport authority, but every business operating onsite. The PGAA has received numerous calls for help, including rent deferral requests as airport tenants try to stay afloat. Budget Car Rental, a long-time fixture at YXS has made the difficult decision to permanently close its operations.

Central Mountain Air will resume service with a limited schedule starting July 7. It will be flying three days a week to Kamloops, Kelowna, Terrace/Kitimat and Fort St. John. Air Canada will be flying daily to Vancouver (YVR) effective Thursday, June 18 and WestJet continues to serve the YVR market with four flights a week. Come July 5, WestJet will add a second flight to Vancouver, six days a week.

Prince George Airport was not part of Pacific Coastal Airlines’ phase two relaunch plan, however the PGAA continues to work closely with all its airline partners to facilitate service re-launches. Those travelling for essential services must wear non-medical grade face coverings as per Transport Canada. Please note the airport restaurant and internationals area remain closed and a reminder that the PGAA has eliminated short-term parking fees as long as you stay with your vehicle.

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