As the calendar turns over to 2021, the Northwest Regional Airport is again seeing a decline in total passengers.
2020 was overall a tough year for the airline industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Northwest Regional Airport followed that trend. In March, passenger numbers at the airport plummeted to historic lows. Between March and September, the passenger count increased gradually, peaking at 14,676 in August.
Since then, the number of passengers has decreased each month to just over 9,000 in Dec. For the year, the Northwest Regional Airport saw 147,642 passengers — just over half of 2019’s total of 293,895.
The Northwest Regional Airport’s statistics do not include passengers on chartered flights, so the actual number of people arriving and departing from the airport is actually higher. Charter passengers use a separate building for arrivals and departures.
The airport continues to ask that people in the terminal building wear a mask. To ensure physical distancing, the airport has closed every second chair in the public seating area, security room and hold room. The eating area is at 40 per cent capacity and non-passengers are asked to stay outside the terminal building.
Common touch points like handrails, push buttons and chair arms are cleaned after each departure.
Other airports in the Northwest also struggled in 2020. The Prince Rupert Airport shut down most of its operations in March, 2020 and resumed flights in June. Then on Jan. 13, 2021, Air Canada announced that it was cancelling all flights to Prince Rupert effective Jan. 23 until further notice as part of its COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan.
Air Canada suspended all commercial flights at Smithers Regional Airport in April 2020, with the airline not resuming activities at the airport until October.