Thursday, April 16, 2020 | News
It's anything but "business as usual" these days at London International Airport (LIA).
LONDON, ON - The crippling social and economic effect of COVID-19 has resulted in a dramatic decline in passenger traffic and airport activity. A normal day at LIA (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) saw 2,500 passengers pass through the Airport, and that number has declined to less than a hundred passengers daily in the last several weeks. The non-essential aviation businesses have also been impacted, with reductions or complete shutdowns occurring at flight schools, aircraft maintenance operations, Diamond Aircraft, and Western University's and Fanshawe College's aviation programs. The level of decline is not unique to London, but rather it is the reality that airports in Canada and throughout the world are faced with.
Despite the significant downturn the Airport is an essential service, and remains open and fully operational. Essential travel, Medevac, cargo and corporate aircraft, together with limited airline flights, continue to require the services of the Airport. From a financial perspective, LIA has experienced a decline of close to 80% of revenue and is now operating on a monthly basis with substantial losses. LIA is fully supportive of the Government of Canada's initiatives to help employees and companies through these tough times.
One of the positives that has come out of the COVID-19 downturn is the ability to complete projects at LIA that would normally be difficult to do. "We are keeping our staff busy and productive" says Mike Seabrook, CEO and President of London International. "Maintenance of our runways and taxiways, upgrades to our terminal building, and even painting of our main public parking lot, are very difficult projects to complete when the Airport is operating at normal levels. Our public parking lot operates close to 75% of capacity at most times (1400 to 1500 cars) and it is virtually impossible to efficiently paint and maintain the lot. During the last few weeks we have had as few as 35 cars and it represents the ideal time to upgrade and improve it".
The impact of COVID-19 on aviation is profound and unprecedented. Events are unfolding rapidly and there is massive uncertainty which is very challenging for the aviation sector. LIA is taking the necessary steps to be well positioned when the recovery occurs. Seabrook is hopeful that the passenger levels will return relatively quickly when it is safe to travel again.