QUÉBEC CITY, April 29, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – The airline industry is certainly one of the most vulnerable, and the financial results released by Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) today do reflect the harsh consequences of the pandemic. However, they also reflect the hard work of its teams and their determination to transform the pandemic into a lever for growth and repositioning.
Despite reducing its fixed costs by one third, YQB will have absorbed losses of $26.7 million in 2020; it estimates that those losses will amount to some $100 million by the time it returns to profitability. In terms of passenger traffic, the reality proved even more brutal than the worst-case forecast. YQB ended 2020 with a total of 535,111 passengers, compared to 1,789,005 in 2019. What’s more, the airport authority predicts that passenger levels will actually hit rock bottom in 2021, when barely 100,000 passengers are expected to pass through the airport’s doors. Based on forecasts by industry experts, traffic at YQB likely won’t return to 2019 levels for at least five years.
“This pandemic has clearly affected every area of our business. The airport has needed to tighten its belt and make difficult decisions. It’s true that we have little control over our industry’s trajectory as we emerge from the global pandemic. However, we were—and are—in the best position to think about how we can emerge from this ordeal stronger than ever, equipped with levers to generate growth,” stated Lise Lapierre, outgoing Chair of YQB’s Board of Directors.
Last December, YQB unveiled a plan to revive airport operations and diversify its activities and revenues while strengthening its role as a driver of regional economic development. This plan, which is based on five key projects, has the potential to strengthen and improve the economy of not just the Québec City area, but all of northern and eastern Québec. The five key projects involve:
- Optimizing the catchment area
- Consolidating regional air services
- Setting up an intermodal logistics platform
- Developing an airport industrial park
- Opening an American Customs pre-clearance centre
“The air transportation industry is probably one of the hardest hit by the current crisis. We were the first to be grounded and will likely be the last to take off again. In the meantime, we are working tirelessly to prepare for recovery so that our airport can quickly regain the momentum that was so abruptly brought to a halt. Until we know when recovery will be possible, we will be actively working on the how,” added President and CEO Stéphane Poirier.
During the airport’s annual general meeting (AGM), the Board of Directors nominated former Vice-Chair André Boulanger as the new Chair. Mr. Boulanger has been a director since 2019. He is replacing Ms. Lapierre, the first woman to hold the position, as she has completed the last of the three terms permitted by the governance rules. YQB would like to sincerely thank Ms. Lapierre for her unwavering dedication and attention to detail.
“Over the past year, our organization has been doing everything in its power to turn challenges into opportunities. We rolled up our sleeves in 2020 to ensure we had a successful recovery plan for our region, and the coming months will be critical to ensure that the plan is funded and comes to fruition. We will need to continue relying on teamwork and the region’s driving forces to support a sustainable recovery,” concluded Mr. Boulanger.
- 70% decrease in passenger traffic in 2020 (535,111 passengers compared to 1,789,005 passengers in 2019)
- Barely 100,000 passengers expected at YQB in 2021
- At least five years needed to reach 2019 passenger traffic levels
- 59.7% decrease in revenues in 2020, resulting in a $26.7M deficit
- Losses expected to reach $100M before profitability is restored
About Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB)
YQB is managed by Aéroport de Québec Inc., a non-profit, non-share capital corporation responsible for the airport’s management, operation, maintenance, and development since November 1, 2000. Around a dozen carriers offer flights from YQB to destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe, and daily flights to the main hubs in eastern North America.
407 Squadron defends Canada for 80 years
From Comox Valley Record – link to source story – thanks to CW
The Comox-based squadron celebrating special anniversary
ERIN HALUSCHAK | 7 May 2021
A 407 Squadron crew returns from an anti-submarine patrol during the Second World War. It was here their aggressive reputation earned them the moniker “The Demons.” Canadian Forces photo/submitted
Eighty years ago, 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron was created with many responsibilities and different aircraft, but one principle has stayed the same: no matter the mission, the crews of 407 Squadron always get the job done.
Stood up on May 8, 1941 at RAF Thorney Island in England as a Coastal Strike squadron, it was tasked with attacking Axis shipping while flying the Lockheed Hudson bomber. It was in this role that the squadron earned its nickname “Demons” for its aggressive and unrelenting low-level bombing runs, destroying or damaging an estimated 500,000 tons of enemy supplies.
In 1943, it was changed to a general reconnaissance squadron and tasked to protect allied shipping from the menacing wolf packs of German U-boats, flying the behemoth Vickers Wellington bomber. Until the end of the Second World War, the “Demons” wreaked havoc on the U-boats, sinking four and damaging seven, thus helping to keep the vital supply lines from North America safe. It was here during the Battle of the Atlantic that the “Demons” lived up to their name.
The squadron was disbanded on June 4, 1945 following the end of the war but reactivated on July 1, 1952 in its current home of Comox as 407 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron.
Flying the Avro Lancaster Mark 10 MR, its primary mission was anti-submarine warfare along with search-and-rescue and national sovereignty patrols. In 1958 the “Demons” traded in the Lancaster for the CP-122 Neptune, an aircraft specifically designed for anti-submarine warfare.
In 1968, they traded the Neptune for the CP-107 Argus, a Canadian-made aircraft with improved sensors and endurance. This allowed the squadron to begin patrolling the vast expanses of the Canadian Arctic. In 1974, a 407 crew flew a maritime patrol from Comox to the Aleutian Islands and back at a time of 31 hours and six minutes, setting a world record for the longest un-refueled flight and putting 407 Squadron in the history books once again.
On June 11, 1981 the “Demons,” now designated as maritime patrol squadron, entered the era of computerized warfare and took possession of its current workhorse, the CP-140 Aurora. A combination of Lockheed’s P-3 Orion and S-3 Viking aircrafts, the Aurora brought with it state-of-the-art reconnaissance, surveillance and anti-submarine capabilities. This made 407 Squadron one of the most versatile squadrons in the Canadian Armed Forces, able to conduct a multitude of missions like anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search-and-rescue, sovereignty patrols, maritime interdiction, assistance to law enforcement and overland reconnaissance.
The squadron routinely works with allied and partner nations as well as other Canadian departments like DFO, the RCMP, the Coast Guard, Transport Canada and NORAD.
Some of its current operations include counter-narcotics enforcement off Central and South America, sanctions enforcement around North Korea, searching for illegal and unregulated fishing in the Pacific Ocean, counter-smuggling patrols in the western Indian Ocean, search and rescue missions at home, enforcing sovereignty along Canada’s west and north coasts, and tracking submarines all around the world.
From the North Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Afghanistan and Iraq to the Indian Ocean and East China Sea, the “Demons” are the eyes and ears of Canada’s military and after 80 years, they still get the job done.
– Capt. Ian Paone/Canadian Forces
United Airlines Uses The Crisis To Diversify Latin American Network
Latin America has been a strong performer through the recovery. With the big three US airlines and smaller peers heavily contesting the geography, passengers have no dearth of options when it comes to choosing a flight itinerary. Sensing an opportunity, United Airlines has used the crisis to diversify its Latin America network.
United has diversified its Latin America network
Speaking on the airline’s first-quarter earnings call, Andrew Nocelle, Chief Commercial Officer at United, discussed the carrier’s international network. While long-haul demand has been largely depressed, Latin America has proven strong for the airline, as he stated:
“As we look forward to our capacity levels in most parts in near-Latin America are now above 2019 levels. Wherever we look in Latin America or Europe, where access is permitted, we see leisure demand in 2019 levels or greater.
One bright performer has been Mexico. Mr. Nocelle stated that, after the US announced it would institute a mandatory testing requirement for inbound international travelers, United feared a drop in travel demand for Mexico. So, the carrier cut capacity, expecting the reduction. However, the airline was wrong and had to go back and add capacity to the market again.
Latin America is also a realm of new opportunities for United. Mr. Nocella discussed how the airline was responding to travel demand for Latin America:
“This summer, we’re planning to be at our 2019 levels already and there’s very few parts of our airline where we’re at that level. We have a great Latin American franchise. However, it’s been historically very Houston-centric and we’ve taken the opportunity in the recent months and going forward to diversify that portfolio to now include more out of Los Angeles, Washington and New York and our intention is to keep that.”
United’s Latin America expansion
This month, United is operating more flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America than it did in May of 2019. Much of this came from both resumptions in existing Latin American routes and new additions to the carrier’s route network.
This includes a significant expansion from hubs like Denver, Los Angeles, and San San Francisco to points in Central America, such as Belize and Costa Rica. Washington D.C. received additional service to the Caribbean, as did Newark, which United uses as its New York City gateway.
United has also brought back much of its long-haul international flying. This includes returning flights to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago, among other cities. Note that not all of those flights are operating with the same pre-crisis frequencies.
Improving Latin American revenue
In the first quarter of 2021, United took in $392 million in revenue from Latin America, as defined by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Delta took in $381 million, while American Airlines received $482 million in revenue from Latin America.
In the first quarter of 2019, United took in $975 million in revenue from Latin America. Delta received $964 million in revenue from the region. American Airlines, historically a powerful player in Latin America, took in a whopping $1.4 billion in revenue from Latin America.
Now that Delta Air Lines has a partnership with LATAM, that airline will be a much larger force to contend with in Latin America. With partners in Copa, Azul, and Avianca, United has also been a growing force in the region. However, it has maintained a relatively limited network there, funneling most passengers through Houston.
American has a robust Latin American network, with flights running to several countries out of Dallas and Miami. After rebuilding its network and gaining new partnerships, other hubs like New York and Charlotte are also seeing increased services to points south of the US.
All of this indicates that United believes it needs to diversify to compete more effectively. Much of the added new routes out of other hubs like Denver, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Newark are short- and medium-haul flights to points in Central America and the Caribbean. Many countries in these regions have been open for Americans since mid-to-late 2020, which is why United has pointed more of its planes there.
Ultimately, diversifying its hub network to Latin America means more itineraries that the airline can offer and compete against its network peers in the region whether all of these new routes are still around when Europe, Australia, and Asia open up remains to be seen.
Do you think United made the right choice in diversifying its Latin American route network? Let us know in the comments!
The Shaunavon Airport to Receive Provincial Funding
By Penny Schreiner | 6 May 2021
The Shaunavon Airport will receive CAP funding. Photo by Penny Schreiner
Recently the Government of Saskatchewan announced that they would be investing $1.5 million in the Community Airport Partnership Program.
This funding provides improvements to 19 community airports across the province, and Shaunavon is one of those communities that will be receiving funding for work at their airport.
The Town of Shaunavon will receive $3,500 in funding for replacement of an airport beacon light.
Shaunavon Mayor, Kyle Bennett, said, “Ya, we’ve got an existing beacon. It’s a high powered light bulb , so they need replaced every so often. And, with this grant from the government we’re able to save our ratepayers 3500 bucks by replacing this through this program.”
Bennett adds that they are hoping to replace the beacon light as soon as possible.
Since 2007, more than $10.5 million has been invested in Saskatchewan’s community airports. When coupled with 50-50 matching community contributions, the CAP Program has generated more then $21 million in airport improvements.
A total of 38 different communities have benefited since the program began.
Airline industry group wants Ottawa to follow U.K.’s lead, help bring in restart plan
BY THE CANADIAN PRESS | May 7, 2021
OTTAWA — An industry group is calling on Ottawa to follow the United Kingdom’s lead and help bring in a restart plan for Canada’s airline sector.
Mike McNaney, president and chief executive officer of the National Airlines Council of Canada, says the U.K. has announced that starting May 17 it will allow travel to and from a select list of countries.
He says travellers from those destinations will not need to quarantine upon entering the U.K.
McNaney says the initial list of countries announced Friday will expand over time as the public health situation improves.
He says it is time for the federal government to work with the industry in Canada to develop a similar plan.
Travel restrictions introduced through the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have been catastrophic for the airline sector, as passenger numbers and profits plummeted and tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs.
“In the midst of the pandemic in February, the British government recognized the critical need to plan for the eventual safe reopening of international travel, and began working with its aviation sector to develop a restart process,” McNaney said Friday in a release.
“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have lost their jobs in the aviation and travel sector, and the scores of communities that have lost service, it is critical that the federal government now follow the U.K. example and work immediately with industry to develop a restart plan.”
McNaney said the Canadian aviation sector has called on the federal government for months to develop a safe restart strategy that outlines the rules that must be met to begin addressing border and travel restrictions.
He said the strategy should use a science-based approach that sets out how Canada will deal with vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers, how quarantine and testing measures will be adjusted, and how it will ensure appropriate electronic capture of health data to facilitate international travel.
Last month before the new federal budget was tabled, McNaney said the council hoped the budget would include a safe aviation restart strategy that included testing and contract tracing but would avoid mandatory vaccine passports.
The council represents large national and international passenger air carriers including Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021
The Canadian Press
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