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Prince George Airport Authority hits turbulence in 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic

YXS seems more than 60 per cent drop in passenger numbers
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Central Mountain Air has announced non-stop service between Prince George and Calgary. / Facebook/Central Mountain Air

With travel concerns increasing due to COVID-19, it's no surprise the Prince George Airport Authority (PGAA) had a major drop in 2020 passenger numbers. 

The authority says passenger numbers dropped by 64 per cent last year compared to 2019, with April, May and June being the hardest hit months. 

All three months saw declines of at least 91 per cent compared to those same months in 2019.

“It was an unprecedented year for all as COVID-19 turned our world upside down," PGAA President and CEO Gordon Duke said in a release. 

“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."

Duke says there was an estimated 42 per cent drop in operating revenues in 2020 compared to the previous year. There was also a 65 per cent decline in Airport Improvement Fees, a primary source of capital funding. 

“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," spokesperson Lindsay Cotter added. 

"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.”

As a result of the pandemic, the authority applied for the Federal Government Wage Subsidy Program and was approved, which helped keep employees working and mitigate operational losses in 2020. 

YXS also lost two rental car companies, Budget and Hertz, but say they will continue to work with all of their tenants going forward. 

In 2021, the PGAA will continue to provide a safe and efficient journey for our customers through the airport," the release added. 

"Focus will be on recovery and building resilience in our operations and service offerings." 

yxs-2019-2020-passenger-numbersPrince George Airport Authority's 2019 and 2020 passenger numbers. By Prince George Airport Authority - YXS

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the following flights involving YXS have been flagged for COVID-19 exposure: 

  • March 5 = Air Canada flight 8209 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows nine to 15
  • March 12 = Central Mountain Air flight 9M728 from Prince George to Kelowna - rows not reported
  • March 15 = Central Mountain Air flight 9M725 from Kelowna to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Aug. 21 = Air Canada flight 8212 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows six to 12
  • Aug. 24 = Flair Air flight 8711 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows 26 to 32
  • Aug. 24 = Flair Air flight 8711 from Prince George to Edmonton - rows 26 to 32
  • Oct. 13 = Flair Air flight 8187 from Prince George to Edmonton - rows 10 to 16
  • Oct. 18 = Air Canada flight 8209 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows eight to 14
  • Oct. 18 = Flair Air flight 8186 from Edmonton to Prince George - rows two to six
  • Oct. 22 = WestJet flight 3287 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows three to nine
  • Oct. 31 = Flair Airlines flight 8186 from Edmonton to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 2 = Flair Airlines flight 8187 from Prince George to Edmonton - rows 26 to 32
  • Nov. 10 = Air Canada flight 8201 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows one to seven
  • Nov. 23 = WestJet flight 3297 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 24 = WestJet flight 3290 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows not reported
  • Nov. 24 = WestJet light 3277 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 24 = WestJet flight 3282 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows not reported
  • Nov. 26 = WestJet flight 3287 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 27 = WestJet flight 3290 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows not reported
  • Dec. 16 = Air Canada/Jazz flight 8208 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows 14 to 20
  • Dec. 16 = WestJet flight 3290 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows 16-19
  • Dec. 18 = WestJet flight 3287 from Vancouver to Prince George – rows 15 -19
  • Dec. 18 = Air Canada/Jazz flight 8208 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows one to four
  • Dec. 19 = WestJet flight 3290 flight from Prince George to Vancouver - rows four to 10
  • Dec. 26 = Air Canada flight 8213 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows seven to 13
  • Dec. 30 = WestJet flight 3277 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows 13 to 19
  • Dec. 31 = Flair Airlines flight 8712 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows 13 to 19
  • Jan. 1 = WestJet flight 3282 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows three to nine

Since March 27, 2020, passengers seated near a case of COVID-19 that was recognized after arrival are no longer being directly notified of their potential exposure, but are asked to check online and monitor their symptoms.

As of this publication (Jan. 14), Northern Health has recorded a total of 2,651 cases with 47 deaths since the pandemic struck the region last year.