As more and more people look to go places again, a growing number of travel routes are relaunching at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport to help further enhance the community’s connectivity.
Whether it’s for work, vacation or to reunite with a loved one, Manitobans rely on direct air service to get them where they need to be. The airport’s route network, linking the province to destinations far and wide, is especially crucial after an extraordinarily long period of travel restrictions amid the pandemic, which created a pent-up demand in a previously budding market.
To help address this growing need to reconnect socially and aid the region’s economic recovery, Winnipeg Airports Authority is working closely with its airline partners to restore many in-demand travel options interrupted since March 2020. Restoring air service will take time, although there’s been plenty to celebrate over the past few months.
From April to September 2021, the terminal went from seeing 22 passenger flights come and go each day to 64. As the volume of flights increased, so did the number of direct destinations to provide travellers with more options.
“We expected this summer to be busier as a result of easing restrictions,” said Paul Forde, Director of Air Service and Cargo Development. “August, which is typically our busiest month of the year at YWG, was particularly strong this year, showing the first real signs of recovery. It was important for us to work closely with our airline partners with a particular focus on prioritizing an increase in domestic destinations in readiness for the summer season as travel started to reopen across Canada.”
In April, travellers flying out of Winnipeg could access 13 destinations. Over the summer, YWG’s route network saw seven non-stop destinations return, including Ottawa, Montreal and Abbotsford, plus the addition of new service to Waterloo-Kitchener. Flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul also came back online after restrictions by the federal government limiting international service were lifted. This represented a promising step forward as, for the first time in seven months, the community could once again fly direct to the U.S.
Driving these positive developments was an undeniable increase in the demand to travel. Passenger traffic picked up as vaccination levels rose across Canada and travel restrictions began to lift. By September, an average of 5,900 travellers moved through the terminal each day – up from 930 in April. While airline partners have brought back popular routes and increased the frequency of flights, work continues to help ensure Manitobans benefit from the same connectivity they experienced before the pandemic.
“We’ve seen three airlines return to the gate at YWG since May and are anticipating more to come back in the near future as we continue to explore opportunities,” said Forde. “We’re looking forward to the winter season as airline partners plan to help once again broaden our community’s connections Canada-wide, into the U.S. and to the many winter sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.”
Before the pandemic, travellers could access 43 destinations directly from YWG, including twelve in the U.S. and 11 internationally. After falling to a dozen domestic destinations amid the pandemic, service to 22 destinations is now available at the airport with more routes on the horizon.
“Our airline partners recognize the strong demand and potential the Manitoba market offers and we are looking forward to sharing more exciting updates in the coming months,” said Forde. “At this moment, we are planning for a number of southern destinations to return as early as November with many more launching in December.”
Another air service update will be shared leading up to the winter season. Details on the airport’s growing route network are also being shared on WAA.ca and social media as they become available to keep the community informed.