CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — After a two-year lull, the Charlottetown airport expects a recovery this year, the CEO said.
Doug Newson spoke at the Charlottetown Airport Authority’s Annual Public Meeting held in the international arrivals area of the Charlottetown Airport on May 2.
Until a few weeks ago, the space was filled with Canada Health Labs’ COVID-19 testing station for departing passengers, Newson said.
“Although they were great to work with, we were happy to see them go,” he said. “This room was basically set up as a screening and testing place for Prince Edward Island. Their departure hopefully signals that we are coming out of this situation and on the road to recovery.
About 40 airport employees and guests attended, including Bert van der Stege, Swoop airline’s commercial finance manager, and Shane Workman, Swoop’s flight operations manager.
Workman was also the captain of the inaugural Swoop flight to Charlottetown Airport.
“Who would think we would do the deicing on May 1,” Workman said. “It was a windy day, but we’ve seen this before on the East Coast.”
Despite this, van der Stege was enthusiastic about the reception on the pitch.
“The best inaugural (flight) ever,” van der Stege said in his address to the assembly.
He called Charlottetown a “perfect fit” for Swoop, a super low-cost carrier. For example, a one-way flight to Toronto starts at $49.
“We really think there’s a real interest for travelers wanting to reconnect with family and friends,” van der Stege said.
After two years of restricted travel, Newson expects a busier summer than ever for Prince Edward Island’s largest airport.
The airport was reduced to just 5% of its usual activity for the first 15 months of the pandemic.
There was an impact of nearly $13 million on the airport and its revenues in 2020 and 2021.
The company saved money by delaying projects and reducing staff where possible while maintaining airport security.
Business has started to rebound, as the last five months have been about 50% as busy as usual.
“We are optimistic. It’s going to be a busy summer here,” Newson said, adding after the meeting that if all planes to and from PEI. are filled, it will be the biggest season in the history of the Charlottetown airport.
“Even though we are talking about high tourism numbers, we know there will be challenges. We know there will be challenges with some infrastructure at the terminal, but these are good issues to have when compared to what we’ve dealt with over the past two years and very little to no traffic.
It recommends travelers arrive at least two hours in advance for flights and warns to expect queues.
He concluded his statements by saying that the board would move forward with an eye on finance and security.
“We are very excited about the future of the airport here in Charlottetown,” said Newson.