While the hospitality sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, so has the travel sector particularly when it comes to airlines.
Business almost trickled to a stop at the Regina Airport because of the pandemic, but a rebound is starting to take place. On Wednesday, Westjet had what is being referred to as a “restart roundtable” with over 50 key players in the Saskatchewan airline industry including the mayors of both Regina and Saskatoon, Tourism Minister Jeremy Harrison, Regina MP’s Michael Kram and Warren Steinley and business leaders like the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.
Another attendee was the president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority James Bogusz. He says it was a chance for the airline to let those who needed to know what their plans are.
“Westjet wanted to talk about plans when it comes to their plans to supporting the province with air service.” Bogusz said. “Air service is integral to our whole province including our two main cities which can’t be underscored enough when we see how much the two big airports have been devastated. We are very supportive of the provincial government’s reopening plan and it is time to travel again in a safe manner, but the reality is we don’t have much air service at either. We literally don’t have a lot of flights. It was nice to hear Westjet tell us how important the restart plan is and they wanted to show a lot of committment by taking a lot of risk with the hopes residents start using the routes they are bringing in. By coming back to the market and re-establishing key links, it is our hope that people will want to get in the air and travel safely again once July 11.
As it stands right now, Bogusz says traffic is at the 10 percent level from where it was before the pandemic which while not great is when you consider the number last year at the end of May was at four percent.
As for what’s next, Bogusz says it is time to work together to plan for a real restart.
‘What I can contribute to that is help incentivize and market these airlines to bring them back to the community.” Bogusz said. “That’s a role the airport takes very seriously and we also depend on our community partners to support marketing efforts and remind people it is time to travel and you can do that safely again on a plane. We are just waiting for that next step which is hopefully just a month away.”