Despite recently becoming the northwestern flight hub following a number of airport closures for the region, the manager for Northwest Regional Airport (YXT) says both air and passenger traffic is extremely low.
As of Mar. 24, Carman Hendry said the airport had seen a 50 per cent reduction in total flights. He adds that current passenger numbers are extremely low.
“[We had] an aircraft that takes 78 passengers, we were down to four passengers one flight the other day,” Hendry said, adding that the airport will eventually be moving to only two specific flight times a day. “Basically what’s happening is people are coming home and people are going home.”
Hendry said in response to COVID-19 the airport has enacted a number of enhanced sanitation measures. This includes increasing their janitorial services so they can be running while the airport is operating. There has been a concerted effort towards touch points such as door handles, flush knobs, railings and push buttons.
As part of the above measures YXT is also asking anyone who is dropping off or picking someone up from the airport to stay out of the terminal to try and increase available space between individuals using the airport.
While Hendry noted the airport can’t remove all its seating options he said they are encouraging people to respect social distancing and to sit multiple seats apart on the airport’s benches. So far, it seems to be working.
“I did notice that [Tuesday] out in the terminal building that there were people sitting on the benches, but they were two or three seats apart from each other,” he said.
He said that as people head home he expects ridership numbers will drop even more. For now, YXT will do all it can to try and keep conditions as sanitary as possible.
“As the crisis continues people will eventually be where they have to be … but in the mean time we do have provide some way for people to get home.”
While ridership rates have dropped, it appears prices have remained relatively static. A search of a number of websites which sell plane tickets indicates prices for a round trip out of YXT to Vancouver International Airport are still hovering at just under $400.
YXT became the northwestern flight hub after Air Canada made the decision on March 19 to suspend flights to Prince Rupert, Smithers and Sandspit in an attempt to mitigate COVID-19 spread. All those flights are scheduled to resume May 1.
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