Passenger numbers at the Northwest Regional Airport Terrace-Kitimat (YXT) are still far below figures from the same time last year, but they are climbing as B.C. continues to open its economy.
“We’re 52 per cent of what we had hast year at this time, so it’s looking better than we anticipated,” said Carman Hendry, airport manager, on Aug. 11.
July saw a near doubling of passengers moving through the airport compared to June. The jump from 6,434 passengers in June to 12,790 in July is the largest monthly increase since the COVID-19 pandemic first started affecting passenger statistics in March. There have been more passengers each month since April.
“That’s major, it’s helping to pay our bills of course, we see the numbers showing that people are starting to regain some of the confidence they lost in air travel and it’s big news for the airlines that service this region,” said Hendry.
Hendry said that YXT is seeing passengers from the entirety of B.C.’s northwest because the Smithers Regional Airport is closed and the Prince Rupert Airport is not fully open yet. He said that there has also been a fair amount of industrial and medical traffic through the airport.
Still, the number of passengers in July was less than half of the 26,637 passengers the airport saw during the same month last year, and there is no guarantee the number of passengers will continue to rise each month.
“We’re expecting there may be a drop in September or October, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s suggestion of a possible second wave,” Hendry said. “Otherwise if there is no second wave I think that we’ll just continue to go up.”
The airport continues to ask that people in the terminal building wear a mask. To ensure physical distancing, the airport has closed every second chair in the public seating area, security room and hold room. The eating area is at 40 per cent capacity and non-passengers are encouraged not enter the terminal building.
Common touch points like handrails, push buttons and chair arms are cleaned after each departure.