A West Jet flight leaving Victoria International Aiport Sunday night for Vancouver had only six passengers. (Courtesy of Kate Korte)

COVID-19: Flight traffic drop 90% at Victoria airport, only handful of flights arrive each day

Traveller calls empty airplanes, precautions eerie yet reassuring

With the coronavirus pandemic grounding planes, only three to four flights arrive and depart the Victoria International Airport each day.

That’s a 90 per cent drop in airport traffic, says Rod Hunchak, director of community relations.

“It’s had a huge financial impact on us but we’re doing what can to understand what that actually means,” Hunchak says. “We still need to keep it open, to maintain our runways and to maintain everything we need to in terms of regulatory requirements.”

Once Alaska Airlines decided to suspend operations, YYJ stopped seeing international flights entirely. Now only a handful of flights come in and out each day, and a number of those are cancelled daily due to a lack of ticket holders.

On Tuesday, Air Canada announced it was suspending all international flights, and Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines Ltd. cancelled all trips until May 31. B.C.-based Pacific Coastal Airlines suspended all operations until June 1.

READ ALSO: Air Canada and others suspend flights until June as sector slammed by COVID-19

Hunchak said the airport authority is reviewing reviewing budgets and trying to cut costs where possible.

“It’s a matter of looking at our priorities to be sure we’re spending as responsibly as possible,” he said.

On Sunday evening, fourth year University of Victoria student Kate Korte flew from Victoria to Vancouver on her way home to Edmonton, where she plans to wait out the rest of the pandemic with her family.

Korte called her airport experience eerie yet oddly reassuring. Her West Jet flight from Victoria to Vancouver had only six passengers, and her connecting flight to Edmonton had only 12.

“There was no one on those flights going on vacation, which again was really reassuring,” she said. “It showed me both in the airport and in the air looking down on Vancouver, that people are taking this seriously.”

And the travel precautions were endless.

Before she boarded, Korte was asked a series of Transport Canada mandated questions about her health, and when she got onto the plane, she was handed a Lysol wipe to use on her seat. Taxiing through the terminal she noted the lined up, empty airplanes.

She said, “Not only is the airport empty but also at every step of the way there’s a reminder of the pandemic.”

READ ALSO: Thousands laid off as airlines struggle with COVID-19 cancellations, travel bans



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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