Ottawa Airport Bounces Back To More Than Half Of Its Passengers Since The Pandemic Hit

Staffing is still a big challenge.

Ottawa News Reporter
Ottawa International Airport. Right: Air Canada Bookings.

Ottawa International Airport. Right: Air Canada Bookings.

Things are looking up for air travellers in Ottawa! The Ottawa International Airport has recovered more than half of its passengers since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

"We're at about 65% of our passenger volume," says Krista Kealey, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs of the Ottawa International Airport Authority.

In 2021, the Ottawa airport saw 1.171 million passengers, which was down 14% from 2020. Meanwhile, pre-pandemic passenger numbers were at 5.1 million in 2019. The airport is now averaging about 5,000 departing passengers each day, and totalling around 10,000 passengers.

"The pandemic was devastating to our finances to every part of finances or concession partners, everybody's suffering, everybody's in recovery," Kealey says.

Part of the airport's pandemic recovery, Kealey adds, is working on opening more stores and restaurants to help boost financials.

"Before the pandemic hit, we were in a major concession renewal and major construction of new concessions," she says. "And so that had to take a pause, but we're working with our partners to complete as much of that as quickly as possible, and then we'll be able to offer more food and beverage elements for our customers."

Staffing remains a key challenge for both the airport and the airlines it works with. "The employee pool is is very shallow right now and so they're all doing all they can to step up."

Throughout the pandemic, the Ottawa airport has worked to keep up with COVID-19 health regulations and keeping people safe, Kealey says. "You know, people are still waiting for that sense of comfort, and we're doing everything that we can to make sure that we have a safe efficient environment for them."

But 2021 also saw increased travel among Ottawa-Gatineau residents, according to information from the Ottawa International Airport Authority.

In June, the airport saw a higher number of domestic passengers. It also added some flights like New York and Washington. Thank goodness!

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