“This is great news. We are very happy to see this. “
Those are the words of James Bogusz, President and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority, following recent updates for passengers to fly in and out of Canada.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a standard federal COVID-19 vaccination-proof system.
The passport will show the person’s name, date of birth, and their COVID-19 vaccination history.
Canada lifts blanket warning against non-essential travel introduced amid COVID-19
It will use the provincial vaccine certificate as a framework, which means Saskatchewan residents with proof of COVID-19 vaccination will see the Canadian government logo in the upper right corner.
And although Trudeau did not announce it, the federal government also lifted its non-essential international travel advisory, a recommendation that had been in effect since March 2020.
According to the COVID-19 travel advice page on the Canadian government website, all international travelers are advised to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to travel. It also says that people should follow local public health guidelines in the country they are traveling to.
“We are very happy to see that,” Bogusz said in an interview with Global News. “As you can imagine, airports and airlines have been devastated during the pandemic.”
These changes could be what airports need to get passenger volumes off the ground.
According to Bogusz, Regina Airport (YQR) averaged between 24 and 27 departures per day before the pandemic. From July to September this year, YQR averaged about 50 percent of pre-pandemic volumes.
Saskatchewan airports see a rebound in air passenger traffic this summer
The Saskatoon Airport (YXE) peaked with an average of nearly 124,000 passengers per month between July and September 2019. That number was just over 61,000 passengers from July to September 2021.
“This is definitely a positive for the industry,” said CJ Dushinski, vice president of business development and quality of service at YXE. “Certainly, we have started to see an increase in passenger traffic as vaccination rates increase and people feel more comfortable traveling again.”
However, airports are reminding prospective travelers of the new rules surrounding proof of vaccination.
The federal government has already shared that Canadians will need to show they are fully vaccinated to travel internationally as of October 30. This includes travel by plane, train or cruise within the country.
Barb Crowe, a travel advisor for Ixtapa Travel in Saskatoon, mentioned that the trend among prospective travelers right now is to book last-minute trips, usually within 30 days.
Passenger levels at Regina airport have tripled in July
Crowe suggested that there are many preparations that people should consider when vacationing abroad during a pandemic, but he believes that people will continue to choose to travel if possible.
“I think it should instill some confidence in the people that the government feels it is okay,” Crowe said. “They raised that warning and they feel that if you are fully vaccinated, then you can go safely.”
There will be a one-month grace period after the October 30 deadline for Canadians to get fully vaccinated and have proof of it.
Proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be accepted within 72 hours of boarding until November 30.
At this time, aside from medical or religious exemptions, Saskatchewan airports are not aware of any other exemptions available to unvaccinated residents beyond the end of November.
– With files from Rachel Gilmore and Sean Boynton
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.