While 2019 may have been a great year for Winnipeg's airport, 2020 is providing more than its share of turbulence.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority provided an update at its annual public meeting on Wednesday and is calling on the government for help.

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe WAA can recover entirely on its own.”

The WAA says the airport had a strong year in 2019 and ended the year with a reserve of $140 million in available cash or credit. "In March 2020, everything changed. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in flight cancellations, border restrictions and repatriation flights," the WAA says in a release.

Passenger traffic "plummeted by 95 per cent," seeing as few as 56 passengers a day at some points.

“It’s clear that this airport is going to be a critical part of our province’s and our country’s economic recovery,” says Barry Rempel, President and CEO of WAA. “Unfortunately, I don’t believe WAA can recover entirely on its own.”

Nicole Stefaniuk speaks at the annual public meetingNicole Stefaniuk speaks at the annual public meeting. (Winnipeg Airports Authority)

The airport took several cost-saving measures, including lowering energy consumption, closing off areas of the terminal, and pausing capital projects, among others.

“WAA is not shying away from this opportunity to rebuild, restructure and prepare for the growth that will come,” says Rempel.

“We will continue to be leaders in transportation
innovation and growth. We will continue to serve our community and find meaningful ways to give back. We will keep working diligently to welcome our community to the airport when they are ready because we are ready for them, and will be each step of the way.”