Sioux Lookout Airport shares how COVID-19 is effecting operations, air traffic
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Sioux Lookout Airport said they’ve experienced reductions in scheduled traffic activities and put increased safety measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ben Hancharuk, Airport Manager, said some operations at the airport have remained the same while others have seen hefty reductions or complete closures.
“As of April 6, we have experienced a 75 per cent reduction in scheduled traffic activities. No reported impact to cargo operations. Medevac services appear to be operating the same as they do under normal conditions,” said Hancharuk.
“Regulatory compliance activities continue as normal. Daily fueling activity reductions correspond with the traffic reduction. Restaurant and store is closed. With Transport Canada passenger screening measures in place, the airline’s daily activity has certainly changed as well,” he added.
Hancharuk said some of the safety measures taken at the airport include:
Tape lines on the floor at six-foot intervals at passenger queuing lines, baggage carousel, parking pay machine and the interpreter’s counter to provide guidance for distancing.
Removal of seats and or seat pans from terminal seating blocks to force separation when seated. (example: seat chain of four, the middle two removed provides over six feet separation).
Educational signage placed at the entrances explaining separation and the importance thereof.
Increased cleaning intervals. All touch points, counter tops and pretty much anything people can touch is wiped down with disinfectant before and after passenger rushes which equates to a minimum of five times a day. This is over and above normal cleaning duties.
Preventive signage for restricted access has been posted.
In a media release on April 7, the Government of Ontario announced an investment of over $37 million to “support outbreak planning, prevention and mitigation efforts to ensure the health and well-being of Indigenous people and communities — particularly those in remote and far-northern regions.”
Included in the $37.8 million investment is $4 million from the Ministry of Transportation to “ensure continued service to remote and northern airports, enabling essential goods and services to continue reaching isolated communities.”
The Sioux Lookout Airport website, siouxlookoutairport.ca, describes how they normally service far-north communities, “This airport also acts as a hub for passengers and patients for the Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre from 29 northern communities and 17 nursing stations, as well as a mid-point for sportsmen and cargo to the communities and fishing and hunting areas in the further north. Due to its valuable services to the northern communities, this airport is acting as a major transfer point between the southern and northern communities.”