Travelling resource workers helped give Kamloops Airport a slight improvement on passenger counts over the summer months, but overall numbers continue to remain significantly down over last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kamloops Airport third-quarter passenger statistics — reporting July through September — show an 84 per cent drop in passenger numbers compared to the same time last year.
During those three months in 2020, slightly more than 14,000 passengers travelled through the airport, compared to just shy of 85,000 passengers across the same time period last year. Month-by-month, Kamloops Airport saw about 4,700 passengers in July, roughly 5,300 passengers in August and approximately 4,300 passengers in September.
Airport managing director Ed Ratuski said early on in the pandemic passenger traffic was down 97 per cent, which he said was consistent across the industry as everything came to a halt due to the global health crisis.
Ratuski said the airport saw about a 15 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the summer.
“The numbers grew largely because of resource traffic,” he said. “That’s people going up north to work and some leisure travel over the summer, where people felt it was safe to go see friends and family in Canada.”
Leisure and business travel, however, continue to be slow.
Six people (about half of the operations staff) remain laid off from the airport, which is operating at reduced capacity.
The airport has two daily WestJet flights to Calgary, while Air Canada flies daily to Vancouver and Central Mountain Air flies thrice-weekly to Prince George.
With cold weather upon us, quarantine restrictions in place requiring Canadians to self-isolate for two weeks will mean more challenges at the airport through the winter.
Ratuski said the industry is looking to the summer of 2021 for any significant improvements.
“It’s going to be probably a pretty sparse winter in terms of any significant increases in activity,” Ratuski said.
“Generally, if there’s a vaccine in place, we’re through the second wave and then there is a pent-up travel demand. There’s a lot of people that haven’t been able to see relatives.”