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Air traffic still down in the Sault due to pandemic

February air traffic down 93 per cent
20200301-Sault Ste. Marie Airport, winter, stock-DT-01
Darren Taylor/SooToday

As we approach the one year mark since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel continues to be impacted by travel restrictions related to the virus.

The Sault Ste. Marie Airport continues to report a downward trend in air passenger traffic. A press release issued by the development corporation today states air passenger traffic dropped 93 per cent from last February.

Currently, Bearskin Airlines is operating up to two flights Sunday and up to four daily flights Monday to Friday. Air Canada Express is offering up to one daily flight. 

Sunwing and Porter Airlines are not currently offering flights out of the Sault.

In terms of the last fiscal year, from April to June, the Sault Airport saw 572 passengers come through, a decrease of -98.89 per cent from the year previous. July to September saw 8,090 passengers come through, a decrease of -85.70 per cent from last year, and October to December saw 7,675 passengers pass through, a decrease of 85.52 per cent from the year previous.

In February, it was reported that Nav Canada, the non-profit body that runs the country's civil air navigation service, is reviewing seven airport towers in small Canadian cities, including Sault Ste. Marie.

The aeronautical study to review air traffic service and aviation weather requirements at the Sault Airport is expected to be presented to Transport Canada for safety review this spring.

SooToday reported on Feb. 24 that the airport is surviving on reserves due to the impacts of the pandemic on air travel. Terry Bos, the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation President and CEO, told SooToday that the closure of the airport is not something that is imminent. He said the airport has a recovery plan, but it is very much contingent on the future of the pandemic and when travellers decide to start flying again.