WAA navigates difficult second quarter amid COVID-19


WINNIPEG, Manitoba – July 28, 2020 – Winnipeg Airports Authority felt the full impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic in the second quarter of 2020 as passenger traffic fell by 95 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.


Fewer than 56,000 travellers moved through the airport in the second quarter, compared to 1.1 million passengers over the same period last year. From April to June, the drastic drop in passenger traffic came as a result of the requirement for anyone entering Manitoba to self-isolate for 14 days, the closure of the Canada-U.S. Border to all non-essential travel, and the ongoing encouragement for the public to stay home. Daily passenger traffic officially bottomed out on April 11 when only 59 passengers departed from Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. Traffic remained extremely low for the next two months as people remained at home to minimize the spread of the virus. Travel during this time consisted largely of repatriation flights and those flying for essential reasons only.



Pictured above: Rolling seven-day departing passenger traffic compared year-over-year for Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. 


“The global pandemic has impacted the aviation and tourism industries in ways no one could have predicted,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority. “The sharp drop in traffic has been felt at airports around the world and Winnipeg has not been immune. This will be a slow recovery taking years to return to 2019 levels. WAA is focused on taking the right steps today to mitigate the impact while keeping the company and airport sustainable in the future.”


Since Canada’s airport system is a user-pay model, the historic drop in traffic has left airports across the country struggling financially. In Winnipeg, 93 per cent of revenues are directly linked to passenger traffic. WAA’s consolidated revenue for the second quarter of 2020 was $11.6 million, compared to $33.5 million in 2019. There was a loss before interest, depreciation and taxes of $3.2 million in 2020, versus earnings of $16.3 million in the second quarter of 2019.

To help mitigate the impact of reduced passenger traffic on revenues, WAA took a number of steps to minimize expenses and achieve cost savings.


All non-essential capital projects were paused or cancelled, operating budgets were cut and the terminal was reimagined to serve fewer travellers, with some energy consuming systems shut down and areas closed off to the public. Operating costs of the airport remain relatively fixed as the terminal needs to remain open and the airfield and runways maintained to provide essential services and move critical goods. As part of the company’s multi-layered response plan, WAA reduced salaries and eliminated positions to better position the company for recovery.


Meanwhile, the cargo sector remained steady in the second quarter, despite the global crisis. The number of cargo plane landings jumped 2.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Also, more cargo aircraft touched down from international markets to move goods such as medical supplies and personal protective equipment in and out of the region to serve the community.


Winnipeg Airport Services Corp. (WASCO), a WAA subsidiary, continued to perform work outside of Winnipeg and broaden the company’s impact across Canada. In June, WASCO signed a contract with the City of Dawson Creek to provide airport management services for the next three years at Dawson Creek Regional Airport (YDQ).


Despite the impacts of COVID-19, WAA relied on its core values to continue to be a leader in the community. Staff members gathered in the airport garden to plant crops for Winnipeg Harvest for the 24th year in a row, only this year they wore face coverings and kept a safe physical distance. WAA worked with AVentPro, a local live event company, to transform the airport economy parking lot into a pop-up, drive-in movie theatre in June, creating positive memories for the community. Each June, the company presents a scholarship, established in perpetuity with the neighbouring school division, to a local graduate pursuing a career in aviation. For 2020, the Queen Elizabeth II Aviation Scholarship was presented to a student from Collège Sturgeon Heights Collegiate. As well, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada began construction in May of a new 86,000-square-foot museum at the airport on land donated by WAA under a long-term lease.


About Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.

Winnipeg Airports Authority serves the community by leading transportation innovation and growth. As a non-share capital corporation, all net revenue is reinvested back into delivering on our mission of providing excellent airport services and facilities in a fiscally prudent manner. WAA does this through a group of companies working together toward a common vision. Airport operations support over 18,500 jobs in the community and generate $4.3 billion in economic impact.


WAA is proud to be recognized as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers for 2020, the ninth year in a row.


For more information:

Tyler MacAfee, Vice President, Communications and Government Relations

Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.

Media Line: 204.992.2791 

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