According to Aaron McPhail, vice-president of COPA Flight 203, recreational flying has been an active pursuit in his area of the country – Chatham-Kent in Southwestern Ontario.
“There’s a lot of recreational flying still going on,” McPhail told local media outlet The Chatham Daily News. “Of course, there’s a lot of precautions taking place, like people wearing a mask if they happen to take a passenger.”
McPhail and fellow club members recently took part in a fly-out to Tillsonburg airport (CYTB) from their home airport of Chatham-Kent (CXCM).
“It’s a very safe way for their family to travel for COVID reasons,” McPhail said, noting that he saw many families travelling together over the summer and into the fall. “The aircraft is a sterile environment that’s taking them to another location. We have people that fly from Chatham to Ottawa frequently, things like that.”
Airports themselves continue to face hardship, however, as very little, if any, of their revenue is derived from light aircraft activities; they typically depend on fees charged to commercial and airline operators, whose activities have been greatly curtailed due to the pandemic.
Aaron Lougheed, executive director of Ontario’s Airport Management Council, said he expects recovery in the industry to take four to five years.
“That is kind of in line with the drop that we saw with the airline industry during the 2008 recession, during SARS, and then post-9/11,” said Lougheed. “You’re going to start to see recreational travel, people flying to see family, people flying to see friends – that’s going to come back first.”
Photo of COPA Flight 203 president Gilles Michaud (at the controls) supplied