GREATER MONCTON, NB – The impact on the operations at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport (YQM) as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis is profound. The months of March and April are normally the time of year with the strongest passenger count demonstrated by a terminal filled with sun seekers, snowbirds and business travelers, but in 2020 is instead marked by vacant check-in counters and empty parking lots.
The airport plays a critical and an essential role in supporting our community. Even though air carriers servicing Greater Moncton have canceled most routes (there is currently only one commercial Toronto flight operating three times weekly with WestJet), passenger traffic at YQM in March decreased from over 68K last year to less than 38K this year. Decreases near 100% for the months of April, May and possibly even June are anticipated. The loss for the year will be significant and could see passenger volumes down by 70% which could make the long-term financial sustainability of the airport more complicated based on the anticipated recovery period. On the positive side, our cargo operators such as Cargojet and Fedex remain active daily at the airport, moving essential goods and supplies, as well as business at our fixed based operations with private chartered flights. Moncton Flight College (MFC) has also just recently began operating again at a reduced capacity level.
Our total revenue in 2020 is estimated to drop by $12 million and upwards of $7.3 million for next year as a result of the impact of COVID-19. The caveat is that the airport must maintain the same high standard of safe, secure operations on a drastically reduced revenue base. The forecast of revenue loss is not only a function of aeronautical activity decrease in 2020. We are also experiencing the direct effects from all revenue streams including reduced concessions, parking and other revenues that offset the fixed costs associated with operating the airport. This situation is not sustainable and puts us in a precarious financial situation in view of the uncertainty related to the timing of return to normal operations and the crisis duration. Our management team continues to diligently review our financial position and business plan, and mitigate the impacts through a reduction of all controllable spending. The airport has deferred or cancelled over $11.5 million in capital projects for 2020 and reduced operating budgets by almost $1.5 million.
We are working actively to position ourselves for recovery, as are other industries. The biggest challenge remains the uncertainty of the duration of the impacts on the aviation sector and the likely recovery period for airlines and airports as a function of air travel demand.
We continue to interface with all levels of government, the general public, and trade associations to make sure they understand the impact of COVID-19 on YQM and our partners. Atlantic Canada’s airports via the Atlantic Canadian Airports Association (ACAA) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC), are seeking more substantial financial support for our region’s airports to address immediate cash flow challenges and ensure airports can remain viable and recover. Financial relief in the form of loan guarantees, eliminations of ground lease payments and access to interest free loans is needed to offset operating shortfalls. Our ability to rebound from COVID-19 will directly affect the economic recovery of our province and many sectors that depend on air service. This will also help protect employment at the airports, which would directly impact the speed of business recovery. YQM currently drives over $665 million of economic activity annually, making it one of the top private-sector economic contributors to New Brunswick’s economy representing 2,800 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
We wish to support our region’s tourism sector as well in their efforts to create a sense of excitement and encourage travel to and from our province once restrictions loosen. #NBalways.
While we are hopeful business will return to “normal” eventually, we do not know precisely when the crisis will be over, or when our airline partners will be able to resume operations in line with our 2019 activity level. It certainly is heartening to see the compassion and resilience of New Brunswickers who have responded to this crisis with courage, grace and kindness and like all other businesses in our community YQM is determined to see our organization through this unparalleled trial, until our community is ready to travel and experience all that the world has to offer once again.
President and CEO – Greater Moncton International Airport Authority
Managing Director – Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport
For more information:
Julie Pondant, Corporate Communications Specialist
506-856-5459 or 506-962-2830