Air Canada airplanes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on March 20, 2020. Nav Canada’s CEO says the air traffic control company saw a “staggering” decline in flights over the past year due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in massive layoffs and revenue shortfalls. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Air Canada airplanes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on March 20, 2020. Nav Canada’s CEO says the air traffic control company saw a “staggering” decline in flights over the past year due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in massive layoffs and revenue shortfalls. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

CEO of air traffic controller Nav Canada cites ‘staggering’ drop in flights in 2020

Nav Canada also suffered a 59 per cent decrease in air traffic last quarter

Nav Canada saw profits and air traffic plummet in its first quarter as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the air traffic control company.

The “staggering” decline in flights prompted massive layoffs as well as a 45 per cent year-over-year drop in revenue for the three months ended Nov. 30, said CEO Neil Wilson.

Net losses at the non-profit company, which runs the country’s civil air navigation service, were $138 million last quarter compared with $36 million a year earlier.

Nav Canada also suffered a 59 per cent decrease in air traffic last quarter, causing revenue to sink to $202 million from $364 million a year earlier.

The losses came despite a drastic rate hike as well as cost-saving measures and the federal wage subsidy that helped slash expenses by about 16 per cent from the same period in 2019, the company said.

“We also had to make the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce across all departments, all groups,” Wilson said at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday, acknowledging the “devastating impact” for staff.

The drop in global travel demand prompted the company to lay off about 900 employees — more than 17 per cent of its workforce — over the past 10 months, including 190 workers in December.

The company hiked its rates by 30 per cent in September, prompting at least one carrier to raise surcharges for passengers on domestic flights.

Wilson, who will step down as chief executive at the end of the month, said the rate hike allowed Nav Canada to seek debt financing and ensure liquidity after it unsuccessfully asked Ottawa for financial support last summer.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. appealed the hike to the Canadian Transportation Agency, which dismissed the case in a decision Tuesday, Nav Canada said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Leduc RCMP lay charges in theft of catalytic converters

Two males arresed and charged with theft of several catalytic converters.

Black Press file photo
UPDATE: Leduc RCMP on scene of serious collision at intersection of Highway 2A and Highway 616

Both drivers were transported to hospital in serious condition; all lanes of travel now open.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Black Press file photo
Leduc RCMP investigate shooting

Male victim transported to hospital with serious injuries.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns after searing report into workplace culture: reports

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. TC Energy Corp. is planning to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

Most Read