Hard-hit London, Ont. airport takes another knock with new flight suspensions
LONDON, ONT. -- New travel restrictions announced by the federal government on Friday will have an impact in the London region.
The London International Airport has been a largely empty space since the pandemic hit.
But with three flights on the board, up from one at the worst of times, it appeared things were slowly improving, until Friday's announcement.
Airport CEO Mike Seabrook says, “It’s just a little frustrating through the whole process.”
Seabrook dreams of a day when charter flights and U.S. and domestic flights fill the departure boards again, but until then he’s trying to maintain airport operations.
Currently, 30 per cent of staff have been laid off and budgets have been cut. Those who remain are taking on roles they don’t typically perform.
And through it all passenger volumes have held steady at about 20 per cent of normal.
Despite the challenges, Seabrook says London’s airport is more financially sound than most across Canada. He says growth has always been measured by demand, leaving a surplus to help ride out the pandemic.
Still, Seabrook acknowledges a good portion of people flying to board connecting flights in Toronto, were headed to destinations in the south.
“It’s surprising how many people have, despite the advice and warnings, have decided to travel to whether it be Europe of the Caribbean or Florida for that matter.”
Even though Seabrook expects London passenger volumes to fall a further 10 per cent, he says he and the industry as whole, accept the need for the government’s decision.
But in return, he’s hopeful Ottawa will come though on promises to help airports and airlines recover once the pandemic subsides.
“The government is hopefully going to have to come up with some measures to stimulate the industry so people feel comforted to get on an airplane again.”
After all, recent studies suggest most of us can’t wait for the day a ‘green light’ is given to travel.
“We want to get this thing behind us," Seabrook says.