Winnipeg airport planning for return of international travellers

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Airport travel volumes are not taking off yet, but there is a welcome increase during what would typically be the busiest time of the year.

August was the pre-pandemic busiest time for airport travel. While the past year-and-a-half has been anything but ordinary, loosened restrictions are resulting in airplane traffic picking up. Michel Rosset, Communications Specialist with the Winnipeg Airports Authority says this summer they are seeing a boost in travellers.

"We're starting to see numbers slowly increase with domestic travel picking up the last couple of weeks reaching about that four thousand passengers per day mark, which is good news considering the lowest point of the pandemic we saw less than one hundred people pass through the terminal on an average day. But we're still well short of our pre-pandemic average of about 12,000 to 13,000 passengers per day," Rosset says.

Most travellers are solo essential workers, but flights are picking up.

"With increased vaccination rates and more people getting vaccinated here in Manitoba, it is opening that door for domestic travel to visit our country."

On August 9, fully-vaccinated non-essential travellers who are American citizens will be allowed to enter Canada by air, including at the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. Rosset says it will take time before they see a U.S flight.

"It is not as easy as flipping a switch for the American carriers or any carrier to start a new route."

Considering the various factors and changes needed to have these flights return to Winnipeg, Rosset says it is tough to say when American travellers will arrive.

Things have changed at the airport, which is why Rosset wants travellers to know what they are well in advance.

"It has been a long time since people have flown because of the pandemic," Rosset says, advising people to head to their website to keep up with the changes. "Check with your airline to make sure there is nothing specific that you need to do before you hop on a plane."

Rosset says they have put in a lot of work to assure travellers feel safe and confident, having what they need to travel. As of last week, COVID-19 testing can be done at the airport.

“As international travel reopens in the weeks ahead, we are making sure individuals arriving in Manitoba are able to get a COVID-19 test quickly and conveniently,” Central Services Minister Reg Helwer said in a release at the time.

The Winnipeg Richardson International Airport reopened its Information Booth last week.