WINNIPEG, Manitoba – November 4, 2021 – Loosened travel restrictions, the return of U.S. service and more direct routes helped Winnipeg Airports Authority toward improved third quarter results.
For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, WAA witnessed a notable increase in passenger traffic in the third quarter. This was due in part to increased consumer confidence and higher vaccination levels, specific travel exemptions and having more direct connections available at YWG. Passenger traffic increased 157 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2020. August 2021 was a strong improvement, returning to 39.7% of pre-pandemic travel levels with Winnipeg Richardson International Airport welcoming 193,943 passengers.
"We are increasingly seeing a path to recovery as governments ease restrictions in line with increasing vaccination rates and our collective understanding of how the virus is transmitted," said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority. "This summer, we witnessed families reuniting, grandparents meeting grandkids for the first time and people simply eager to see their loved ones for the first time since March 2020. It was inspiring to see the familiar energy and buzz return to the terminal as the airport team worked diligently to ensure our community was able to experience those connections once again."
WAA collaborated closely with airlines to restore direct routes to the most popular destinations and to help keep the region connected and competitive. In the third quarter, Air Canada returned direct service to Montreal, Flair Airlines connected YWG to the Region of Waterloo, a new destination for this market, and Delta Airlines returned to the gate to relaunch direct U.S. commercial passenger flights with service to their hub in Minneapolis-St.Paul. The return of U.S. service is something WAA advocated for and is a positive sign for the region's recovery as it restores this essential connectivity for the community.
WAA's consolidated revenue for the third quarter of 2021 was $28.3 million, versus $12.2 million for the third quarter in 2020. Earnings before interest, depreciation and taxes were $16.8 million in the third quarter of 2021, compared to $2.6 million during the same period last year. These positive results are in part due to increased passenger volumes and $5.7 million in federal government funding provided under the Airport Relief Fund.
While the third quarter was strong compared to last year, contrasting these results to pre-pandemic data demonstrates the airport's recovery will not happen overnight. Passenger traffic in the third quarter of 2021 was down by 60.3 percent versus the third quarter of 2019, and WAA's consolidated revenue for the same period in 2019 was $36.1 million, more than double the third quarter of 2021.
Through a long-term focus on diversification, WAA continues to be a leader in transportation innovation and to broaden its impact locally and globally. In the cargo sector, the company's ongoing investments continues to reap dividends as Winnipeg Richardson International Airport saw more air cargo freighters moving higher volumes of goods in and out of the region. The number of cargo planes landing at YWG jumped by 15 percent and gross takeoff weight climbed by 18 percent in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.
WAA's strong commitment to prioritizing excellent customer service continued with the launch of a new mobile-friendly, more accessible website. On the modernized platform, WAA also launched Travel Well YWG, an enhanced COVID-19 travel information hub to help travellers stay in the know at every stage of their journey. Giving back to the community is always a priority for WAA, and the company was proud again this year to host ‘Girls in Aviation Day 2021’ to help inspire the next generation of industry leaders.
The third quarter also saw WAA announce the retirement of long-time President and CEO Barry Rempel. During his time at WAA, Mr. Rempel was instrumental in many significant projects, including the new terminal that opened in October 2011. A global search is underway to find the next President and CEO.
During the remainder of 2021, WAA continues to expand route options beyond Canada for the winter season with several direct routes to sought-after sun destinations expected to return before 2022. These include services to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Phoenix-Mesa. Simultaneously, the priority remains staying ahead of industry developments, including preparing for vaccination requirements for all air travellers and exploring more options to further support seamless, healthy and enjoyable travel experiences at YWG.