The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)

The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)

Pandemic takes ‘hundreds of millions’ out of Victoria Airport, Vancouver Island economy

Airport authority head says passenger volumes down as much as 98 per cent

The president and chief executive officer of the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) says the pandemic has cost southern Vancouver Island’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This airport facility that you are neighbouring, that we are all part of, is close to a one-billion-a-year economic generator,” Geoff Dickson said in a recent presentation to Sidney town council. “So the impact (of COVID-19) on the economy as you can imagine is enormous.”

“We look at our business being at 10 per cent of what it was in 2019. You can only extrapolate the numbers and think that is hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity lost.”

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VAA’s annual report for 2020 speaks of significant revenue losses for the airport with spill-over effects far beyond the airport itself.

“Ninety per cent of the revenue generated at Victoria International Airport is tied to passenger and aircraft activity,” it reads. “With passenger volumes down as much as 98 (per cent) and the number of daily flights decreasing from one hundred to as low as eight, the impact to revenue was severe.”

Overall, the airport realized total revenues of $17.1 million in 2020, $22.4 million short of planned revenue. When held up against expenses, the airport recorded a net loss of $8.2 million in 2020, which represents a $17.4 million change in profitability.

Dickson made shared this information in the context of the pending development of a massive warehouse on site. He told the public that a proposed warehouse won’t change the financial situation of the airport, but will help it nonetheless.

“Is this materially going to change our financial position. It won’t. But it certainly helps.”

Overall, the warehouse represents a “good revenue opportunity” for the airport. “It’s multi millions of dollars over the life of the lease,” he said, without giving a specific figure. Dickson also pointed to the economic benefits of the warehouse to Sidney.

“I look at $325,000-a-year tax base for the Town of Sidney,” said Dickson.

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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Victoria International Airport