Gore Bay airport traffic numbers increase despite pandemic

Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport

GORE BAY – While the Gore Bay Manitoulin Airport Commission has passed a budget with a slight increase this year, the manager of the airport reports that traffic was up and revenues were down. 

“This year’s budget was passed by the airport commission, with a two percent increase (to participating municipalities),” said Lee Hayden, chair of the airport commission, after a meeting last week. He explained, “we looked at the draft financial statement for 2020 and (airport manager Robby Colwell) was able to keep control of costs well, and the airport actually managed to see an increase in traffic, despite the pandemic.” He pointed out fuel sales, which is the biggest revenue maker for the airport, was down.

Mr. Colwell told the Recorder after the meeting, “last year was a totally different year at the airport with changes in traffic demographics and challenges in fiscal management. It’s interesting to note that traffic was up and revenues were down. We had an increase of 9.8 percent in traffic movements, with the highest recorded number of movements since we assumed ownership of the airport nearly 25 years ago.” 

“We saw no direct international flights, virtually no charter flights, approximately one-third of Manitoulin Transport’s corporate flights, and a slight increase in military training flights,” said Mr. Colwell. 

“Almost all the flights were from the general aviation sector,” said Mr. Colwell. “We saw increased activity from the Gore Bay Flying Club with recreational and training flights and many privately-owned light aircraft came to explore and enjoy the Island. When the going got tough, the pilots got going. Many people used their aircraft as a COVID therapy tool.”

“It is great to see an increase in traffic but we missed experiencing the large numbers of charter jets and turbo props we typically see during our busy summer season. This traffic sector yields landing fees and large uploads of fuel, which contributes substantially to our revenue stream in a normal year,” added Mr. Colwell.