A lone woman walks in an empty Air Canada line at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A lone woman walks in an empty Air Canada line at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto airport loses $383 million in 2020 as passenger numbers plunge due to COVID

More than 13 million passengers passed through airport in 2020

TORONTO — Canada’s largest airport lost $383 million last year as the number of passengers plunged nearly 74 per cent from 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says its net loss compared with a $139.8-million profit in 2019 as revenues decreased nearly by half to $823.5 million, from $1.5 billion a year earlier.

More than 13 million passengers passed through the airport in 2020, including 5.5 million on domestic flights and 7.8 million for international service.

That was down from 50.5 million, including 18.1 million within Canada and 32.4 million between Canada and the U.S. and other global destinations.

The airport responded to the pandemic by cutting capital spending by $265 million and temporarily closing more than 40 per cent of its terminal facilities.

It also eliminated about 500 positions last summer, representing a 27 per cent cut to its workforce.

“While we have pushed toward leading hygiene practices, and advocated for a stronger approach to passenger testing, there is more that must be done with our government and aviation sector partners to develop a recovery framework that permits the safe restart of air travel,” stated GTAA president and CEO Deborah Flint.

“Canada’s airports must be given the tools they require to rebound in a post-COVID world or our aviation sector and the country’s competitiveness will suffer.”

The federal government waived airport ground lease rent between March and December 2020 and deferred rent payments for 2021 to be repaid over a decade, beginning in 2024.

The airport also received federal financial support from the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program.

The GTAA says it adjusted fees paid by Air Canada and WestJet to reflect reduced activity faced by the airport’s key airlines and made adjustments for other commercial partners, concessionaires and tenants.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2021.

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