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HALIFAX -- For the second year in a row, passenger traffic at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in 2021 was down 75 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.
As a result, Atlantic Canada's busiest airport continued to record significant financial losses, despite a spike in business last summer when COVID-19 infection rates dropped, vaccination rates rose and travel restrictions were temporarily lifted.
More passengers were served during the month of August than January to July combined.
The Halifax International Airport Authority says that by the end of 2021, with the Omicron variant causing a huge increase in COVID-19 infections, the airport once again returned to 30 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
In all, 1.1 million passengers travelled through the airport last year, compared with the 4.2 million passengers welcomed in 2019 before the pandemic hit.
Official financial results for 2021 have yet to be released, but the airport authority's financial loss is expected to be a marginal improvement from the $40 million loss reported in 2020, when there were just under 1 million passengers.
"The past two years have been the most challenging years in Halifax Stanfield's history," Joyce Carter, CEO of the authority, said in a statement. "We anticipate that it will take several more years for the airport to fully recover from the effects of COVID-19."
The airport authority, like others across the country, operates on a user-pay model, which means it has few ways to make money without passenger traffic.
About 45 per cent of concessions in the air terminal building remain closed, while others have reopened with limited hours.