The Regina International Airport was dealt another blow this week after Flair Airlines announced the suspension of its service until at least March.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been friendly to the airport industry, due to regulations surrounding both domestic and international travel.
Regina Airport CEO James Bogusz says while the loss of an airline is never good, he’s hoping to see better success when Flair resumes service in the spring.
“When they do return, hopefully they’ll have some good vaccine news, hopefully even some opportunities to look at testing at the airport, or a combination thereof,” said Bogusz. “And as more of these things come in place, when they do return, they need to be more successful. We just need to have more people travelling generally to be able to support having an additional airline here on top of Air Canada and WestJet.”
Regina-Wascana MP Michael Kram says the federal government needs to do more to support airports financially through the pandemic. One thing he’s advocating for is the removal of airport ground leases.
Kram says the government needs to ensure the survival of smaller airports like YQR, adding the loss of the airport would be catastrophic.
“There needs to be certainty moving forward, whether it’s in the form of low interest loans, or other sorts of funding, and the certainty has not been coming from the federal government,” said Kram. “It would be a shame of Regina lost our airport because it’s a very important part of our city.”
Kram says he first addressed the need to support airports in June, where the government promised a plan would be in place shortly.
Bogusz says time is of the essence as the airport is running out of options.
“As it sits today, we continue to burn through the small amount of cash reserve we have left, our staff are incredible, they’ve all been doing more with less,” said Bogusz. “We’re still at 30 percent staff reduction, we still have a very small capital program in terms of spending. We’re just doing everything we can to preserve cash, but despite all of those efforts, the money is almost out.”
Bogusz says the government has reportedly laid out $65 million in support for Canadian airport authorities, he adds he’s concerned about when and how much money YQR would receive.