COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada should be relaxed: YQR president and CEO

Regina’s international airport is recovering well from the COVID-19 pandemic that all but completely halted air travel in 2020 and parts of 2021, but they would also like to see Ottawa relax remaining travel restrictions.

President and CEO of Regina’s international airport James Bogusz, said over the last few months they have seen a virtual “hockey stick like” recovery.

“We were around 30 per cent pre-pandemic passenger numbers in January and after looking at data for the last few weeks we’re actually having some days with numbers more than 70 per cent of pre-pandemic,” Bogusz said in an interview with CTV Morning Live Regina.

“It’s been incredible,” Bogusz added.

Bogusz also said they feel it’s time for the federal government to review the remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place.

“This is really because it’s constraining our ability to get back to full strength. Currently, about a fifth of our potential passengers are unable to board an aircraft and that’s really hamstringing our economic recovery.”

Bogusz said that accounts for millions of dollars of GDP just in Regina alone.

Currently if you’re 12 years of age plus four months or older, you need to be fully vaccinated with at least two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine in order to board domestic or international flights departing from most airports in Canada.

That also includes charter and foreign airlines carrying commercial passengers.

The mandates are something Bogusz said were necessary, but added that around the world continued relaxation of restrictions has been the trend as of late and it’s something he and other Canadian airports hope Ottawa will consider here too.

Bogusz said airports would also like to see Ottawa make investments in the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

“This is at the major hubs, compared to Toronto, Vancouver. We’ve all heard of the big delays going on there, in addition to the removal of those COVID-19 mandates we’d also like to see security beefed up there,” Bogusz said.

Meanwhile, ultra low-cost airline Swoop will be coming to YQR as of June 16 and will offer service into Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

“It’s going to be six flights a week in total which is going to add a lot more capacity. Swoop is an ultra low-cost carrier so some pretty incredible fares, very similar to their [Swoop’s] competitor Flair, who just pulled out of our market,” Bogusz said.

An on-going job for Bogusz continues to be trying to add more flights at YQR.

Bogusz said an announcement like Swoop is a really big deal for Regina.

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