Increased passenger traffic and steady air cargo growth propelled WAA forward in the last quarter of 2021.
Building on a stronger third quarter, the last three months of the year saw 518,726 passengers travel through the airport, an increase of almost 300 percent compared to the same period in 2020, but still only 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels. WAA closed 2021 having welcomed 1,223,054 passengers, slightly below the 1.3 million passengers in 2020 and well below the 4.5 million passengers the airport saw in 2019. The encouraging sign is YWG saw 42 percent of its total annual traffic in the final quarter of the year.
WAA’s consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021 was $25.1 million, compared to $13.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2020. Earnings before interest, depreciation and taxes were $9.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, versus $2.7 million during the same period last year.
“We continued to see promising signs of recovery in the fourth quarter as restrictions on travel abated as vaccination levels increased,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of WAA. “The holiday season was a considerable improvement over 2020, with families and loved ones enjoying reconnecting, many for the first time since the start of the pandemic.”
The increase in traffic in the fourth quarter of 2021 was the result of WAA working closely with airline partners to restore service for the region. Winter charter season kicked off in November with direct service to several sought-after sun destinations, such as Cancun, Palm Springs, and Puerto Vallarta.
WAA continued to support the growth of the airport’s booming cargo sector in the fourth quarter. The number of cargo planes landing at YWG jumped by 4.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021 versus the same period in 2020. Each quarter in 2021, the cargo sector exhibited steady growth over the previous year, reaffirming WAA’s plans for future cargo expansion.
Other highlights from the quarter included celebrating the 10th anniversary of the terminal’s opening, as well opening two new exhibition spaces in the terminal for travellers to explore post-security. Gathering restrictions didn’t allow the airport to repeat the previous season’s celebratory homecoming of the CFL Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers with the community; however, the airport did welcome home curling legends Team Jennifer Jones after they secured their place on Canada’s Winter Olympic Team.
WAA also continued to support the communities we serve in the fourth quarter. The WAA team proudly rolled up their sleeves for the 25th year in a row to harvest the airport garden in support of Harvest Manitoba. Employees also organized a donation drive for Main Street Project, helping deliver in-demand items in advance of the holiday season. WAA’s subsidiary WASCO worked closely with partners in Iqaluit to help bring bottled water into the community and bring empty bottles out of the community for recycling amid their drinking water emergency.
The year did end with a new challenge for the industry as the Omicron variant started to take hold across the country, creating uncertainty for the new year. WAA continues to work with our partners to mitigate the risk Omicron poses to travellers and airport employees and continue to provide a safe and healthy travel environment.
Looking ahead, 2022 will be another exciting year for WAA as it works to restore choice for passenger service to the region while also expanding YWG’s cargo campus. Demolition work will begin in early 2022 to allow for the construction of the Multi-tenant Air Cargo Logistics Facility, which received funding under the federal government’s National Trade Corridors Fund. 2022 also marks the 25th anniversary of WAA and the shift to local management of the airport campus. WAA will also welcome a new President and CEO in the first half of 2022.