Ready for takeoff: Halifax airport sees uptick in traffic after border restriction loosen

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Increases in flights and passenger traffic at Halifax Stanfield International Airport are encouraging signs of recovery.

The region's largest airport, located in Enfield, N.S., has seen more passengers travelling in the last week than throughout the entire pandemic.

Jeremy Walsh is one of them. He hasn't seen his son in a year, and he recently arrived from Ontario to pick him up and bring him back for a five-week visit.

Low COVID-19 case counts in Nova Scotia and relaxed travel restrictions made the trip possible.

"Where I'm from, they're a lot lower so it's safer," Walsh says.

Add-in increasing vaccination rates across the country and business is picking up at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Traffic had been down to 10 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, but in the last week that number has jumped up to 15 per cent, all of which is domestic travel.

While it's encouraging, however, the hope is that Canada's borders will soon fully open to the rest of the world.

"We’re hopeful that we will regain that service as soon as possible because we know there is demand for those U.S. and international destinations where people want to fly nonstop direct here from Halifax Stanfield,” says airport association spokesperson Tiffany Chase.

Stanfield was handling about 200 flights a day before COVID-19 struck, but bottomed out at 10 during the height of the pandemic.

The cuts led to a loss of about $70 million since the end of June. About 30 flights a day are now moving through Halifax.

Pre-COVID-19, the airport employed 5,600 people, but many were laid off. Now, as passenger traffic ramps up, those people will start being recalled to work.

Chase says there are 120 different businesses that operate at the airport.

"We are looking forward to seeing more of those businesses, particularly in the terminal building be able to re-open," she says.

Despite the downturn in traffic, the airport stayed open around the clock to handle medical emergencies, flight diversions, as well as cargo deliveries, including vaccines.