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

Smithers Local Health Area reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 Jan. 3 - 9. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 25 in Smithers LHA Jan. 3 – 9

Northern Health reported 49 new daily cases for 497 active, 44 hospitalized, 13 in critical care

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Hydro-Electric turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam week of Jan. 10 to 14

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read