While 2020 – from January to mid-March – got off to a ‘healthy’ start, Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport (YQM) ended the year, like all airports worldwide, with a huge loss in passenger movements.
The airport reports that 2020 finished with 173,404 passengers in comparison to 674,406 in 2019.
To put this in perspective, this traffic level is almost 30% lower than the 239,320-passenger level of 1997, the year the airport authority took over operation of YQM from the federal government.
Although beneficial in terms of mitigating the spread of the virus, the strict travel restrictions still in place for our region contributed to the 74.3% year over year passenger traffic decrease.
Passenger traffic hit a low of 1,079 in May, representing a drop of 98%. The airport is considered an essential service for people needing to travel for work and for medical reasons.
For 2021, subject to an eventual easing of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements as health guidelines permit, passenger traffic is expected to run in the 180,000-passenger range and not a significant recovery from the 2020 level of activity.
As a result of the pandemic, revenue in 2020 is expected to drop by $10.7M, or 53%.
While YQM positioned itself for a lengthy recovery period, difficult decisions were made to better align our base expenses (an amount of which are fixed) with our projected revenue base.
Workforce reductions impacted a total of 26% of our full-time employees including management, non-unionized and unionized personnel.
The airport authority will present its 2020 financial results at its May 14, 2021 Annual General Meeting.
Bernard LeBlanc, CEO of the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport, said that: “With the current travel restrictions and quarantining requirements in place and with the situation continuously evolving, it is difficult for our business to ramp up to prior passenger activity or income levels. That being said, our airport continues to operate 24/7 with both runways fully operational to accommodate all commercial passenger, cargo, charter, MFC Training (Flight College), and general aviation aircraft activity.”
LeBlanc continued: “Until the provincial and federal governments deem it is safe to travel again, it will be challenging to recover financially and be self-sustaining. This is why Canadian airports such as ours continue to seek to take advantage of announced federal government financial assistance to prevent long term impacts from both the operational and infrastructure perspectives.”
And he added: “It is also key to understand that airports cannot fulfill their mandate without airlines, such that the viability of our partners is key to ensuring a strong Canadian aviation system.”
A critical aspect of an eventual airport recovery will be the rapid rollout of vaccines combined with the implementation of a coordinated and consistent testing approach between provinces, the federal government and other countries to build traveler confidence and ensure safe travel.
YQM’s current flight schedule for January is the following:
- Air Canada to Toronto (YYZ) has daily service, while Montreal (YUL) has twice daily service.
- PAL Airlines operates flights to Deer Lake (YDF) then onto St John’s (YYT), Newfoundland, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Wabush (YWK) flights operate Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- As these schedules are all subject to change, the most up-to-date schedule can be seen on: https://cyqm.ca/flightinfo/flights/.