Hopeful for the future: Sask. airports looking to better times in 2022

It was a tough year for Saskatchewan’s two major airports. With Regina and Saskatoon coming up financially short in 2021.

“We lost about 5.5 million dollars,” said James Bogusz, CEO of the Regina Airport Authority. “Which as challenging as that sounds, it’s far better than 2020 when we lost almost 11 million.”

Saskatoon’s airport had a $3.3 million operating shortfall last year. 440,000 passengers passed through the terminal, about 30% of pre-pandemic levels. Regina had 355,000 passengers, about a third of what’s normal.

Both airports are hopeful for modest surpluses in 2022 as passengers return.

“Just to give you context, last week looking at some raw data coming from our security checkpoint, we even saw a few days above 70% of pre-pandemic level,” explained Bogusz.

“It’s the highest we’ve seen since the start of 2020 when all of this began.”

This increase is preceding larger changes to the industry in the province.

Low cost carrier Swoop is entering both markets this summer while Flair, WestJet and Air Canada are increasing available seats.

Terminal improvements that were postponed due to the pandemic are now proceeding.

At YQR, Rumours Gift Shop, a long time Saskatchewan themed gift shop will be displaced to make way for additional seating.

The current operator of Rumours, Connie Mcleod, has been invited to compete for a new a space.

“The offer that was put forward isn’t one that I would think of accepting,” she explained. “Nor is the product mix one that I would think of selling. So I’ll be really sorry.”

2022 is expected to be a much better year for Saskatchewan airports with a possible return to modest profitability.

However, a full economic recovery won’t be possible until remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions are no longer required.