Calgary airport passenger traffic down 80 per cent this holiday season, says airport authority

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The winter holidays are usually the busiest season for air travel. But this year, about 80 per cent fewer travellers will pass through the doors of the Calgary International Airport in late December, according to the airport authority's spokesperson.

About 50,000 travellers take off from or land at Calgary International Airport per day during the holiday season in an average year, said Reid Fiest, spokesperson for the Calgary Airport Authority.

But this year, the holidays fall amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many jurisdictions have discouraged all non-essential to prevent further spread of the illness. As a result, the airport authority predicted that only about 10,000 travellers would go through the Calgary airport "for the period before Christmas all the way through New Year's," said Fiest.

"For those who have to travel for essential travel reasons, the airport remains open. And of course, our focus is on everyone's safety as they move through the airport or arrive at the airport," he said.

The Calgary airport is facing a $67-million deficit this year thanks to the unprecedented drop in demand for air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of total passengers to stop by the Calgary International Airport is also down from nearly 18 million passengers in 2019, to almost 5.4 million so far in 2020. That is a decrease of over 67 per cent, according to passenger statistics released by the airport.

International passengers are down 97 per cent on average since April, and trans-border passengers are also down 97 per cent on average since then.

For most, travel plans have been more unpredictable this year, said Fiest.

"People are making plans more last minute and they may also be changing their plans depending on on what their what their individual situation is or based on travel recommendations and restrictions," he said.

While significantly fewer people are moving through the airport, Fiest suggests travellers to arrive at the airport 15 to 30 minutes earlier than normal, to ensure check-in goes smoothly with the added health measures.