Skip to content

Pandemic made for a tough year at the Prince George Airport Authority

Gordon Duke president and CEO of the Prince George Airport Authority.

Passenger numbers at the Prince George Airport were down 64 per cent in 2020 compared to the year previous.

The months of April and May were the hardest hit, followed by June which all experienced drops of over 90 per cent compared to the same months in 2019.

“It was an unprecedented year for all as COVID-19 turned our world upside down,” said President and CEO of the Prince George Airport Authority (PGAA), Gordon Duke. “The aviation industry has been hit incredibly hard as travel restrictions and limitations were in place for the majority of the year. The number of flights cancelled and airlines who temporarily suspended operations out of YXS forced our management team to pivot and look at other revenue opportunities. We are a not-for-profit corporation and we rely heavily on revenues from flights and passenger traffic.”

The airport experienced an estimated 42 per cent reduction in 2020 operating revenues compared with 2019, as well as an additional 65 per cent reduction in airport improvement fees, which are the primary source of capital funding for the airport authority.

“We started off the year with so much hope as we prepared to welcome the world for the Women’s World Curling Championships, as teams were landing at YXS, they were learning the tournament had been cancelled due to COVID,” said Lindsay Cotter, communications manager. “Locally, that was one of the first indications at how serious this new virus was. By the end of March travel restrictions were in place and we were installing plexi-glass barriers and physical distancing decals throughout the terminal in an effort to keep those travelling for essential reasons, safe.”

“The safety of our employees, tenants and travelling public is of utmost importance so the PGAA increased cleaning services throughout the terminal, introduced mandatory masks and offered free short term parking to reduce the amount of people within the terminal,” manager of safety and regulatory compliance, Geoffrey Stocks. “We continue to monitor industry and health standards to ensure we are compliant.”

The Prince George Airport Authority successfully applied to the federal government’s wage subsidy program which helped keep employees working and mitigate operational losses in 2020. Duke says Ottawa provided airports rent relief for the duration of the year, however more needs to be done to help the aviation industry.

Some highlights from 2020 include the airport remaining open during a worldwide pandemic which allowed med-evac flights to operate, Flair Airlines joining the YXS family and the creation of a premium parking program.

“It has been a hard year for our partners as well as we lost Budget and Hertz, however we will continue to work with all our tenants as we try to brace this COVID storm and try to rebuild our flight schedule,” said Duke. “In light of the major loss of revenue, the PGAA reduced our 2020 capital investment to only safety and regulatory projects.”

In 2021, the PGAA will continue to provide a safe and efficient journey for our customers through the airport. Focus will be on recovery and building resilience in our operations and service offerings.

Monthly passenger numbers at a glance: Monthly

% Change

2019

2020

Prev. Month

Jan

41,405

39,015

-5.77%

Feb

40,316

40,353

0.09%

Mar

44,817

24,964

-44.30%

Apr

42,911

1,899

-95.57%

May

42,537

1,910

-95.51%

June

39,368

3,505

-91.10%

July

39,146

9,707

-75.20%

Aug

39,400

11,006

-72.07%

Sept

40,697

10,902

-73.21%

Oct

44,674

12,835

-71.27%

Nov

39,633

11,519

-70.94%

Dec

41,810

9,379

-77.57%

YTD TOTAL

496,714

176,994

% Change Prev. Yr

-1.93%

-64.37%


What do you think about this story?