Air travel out of the Kamloops Airport is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels, but YKA manager Ed Ratuski said airlines don’t plan to increase operations any further through September.
At present, commercial flights are at about 25 per cent of normal at YKA, Ratuski said, with Air Canada flying once per day to and from Vancouver, while WestJet flies once a day between Kamloops and Calgary. Central Mountain Air is flying three times a week to Prince George, down from daily service pre-pandemic and also has a temporary flight to Vancouver.
Prior to the pandemic, Air Canada flew four flights per day to Vancouver and twice a day to Calgary while WestJet flew to Calgary three times a day, Ratuski said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, Air Canada ceased all flights out of YKA from April until about mid-June, Ratuski said.
WestJet, at the time, continued to operate its Calgary service, but reduced service as low as two flights a week at one point.
“That was our only air service, basically, from April, May and until mid-June,” Ratuski said.
Central Mountain Air resumed flights in July.
Ratuski said commercial passenger numbers have been increasing slowly since May when the amount of traffic through YKA was down 98 per cent of what it was that same month in 2019.
In June the amount of passengers was down about 95 per cent from 2019 and in July that number was down to 83 per cent of July 2019.
This July, YKA received 4,675 passengers compared to 28,369 in July 2019. In June, 1,407 people came through, compared to 26,705 passengers in June 2019.
Passenger numbers after the first seven months of 2020 are about 50 per cent of what they were in 2019, Ratuski said, adding he’s projecting a further recovery toward the end of the year.
That rebound, however, depends on travel restrictions going forward, the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence, he said.
Kamloops Airport’s recovery is reflective of other airports in Canada during the pandemic, Ratuski said.
“Most airports were down 95 and 98 per cent for April, May and June,” he said.
This time of year, YKA is seeing predominantly a mix of business and resource worker travel, though there is still some leisure travel.