By Ian McMurtry
Ottawa Airport Notes Some Interference with Ongoing ‘Freedom Convoy’
The ongoing “Freedom Convoy” that is occurring in Canadian capital of Ottawa has made its way to the airport. On Thursday, the airport noted that traffic had become fixated on taking the airport loop and driving very slowly to disrupt travelers from making their way to the terminal. A couple dozen vehicles were blocking Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport’s arrivals and departures roadways through the day but were not blocking aircraft movements.
In a press release, the airport noted, “There are currently 60 to 70 light trucks circling the Ottawa International Airport’s arrivals and departures roadways in an attempt to disrupt operations. Airport traffic is already extremely light due to the pandemic so the impact so far is minimal. We are monitoring the situation with our security and airport policing teams and advise anyone who is travelling today to give themselves extra time to get to the airport.”
The ongoing “Freedom Convoy” has stifled life for Ottawans for roughly 2 weeks now as Canadians protest the ongoing mandates to combat Covid-19. What started as a journey from as far away as British Columbia has resulted in truckers from across Canada blockading the streets of Ottawa as the group wants Covid-19 mandates eased in as the pandemic nears the completion of year two in the country. The movement has promoted similar protests and public backlash in other western countries that have seen the ongoing pandemic slow down the return to normalcy.
For Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier Airport demand for travel is still forced to be focused on domestic traffic. The airport saw one international flight on Thursday, with United Airlines Flight 3899 operating to Washington Dulles International Airport with a Bombardier CRJ-200.
The rest of the traffic in Ottawa is domestic, with flights to Toronto and Montreal dominating the schedule. The airport is serviced by a plethora of Canadian airlines like WestJet, Air Canada, Flair Airlines, Porter Airlines, Sunwing Airlines, Air Transat and Air North. The airport will welcome low-cost option Swoop, a WestJet subsidiary, in three months’ time with service to domestic destinations Edmonton, Halifax and Winnipeg.
Also in the press release, the airport said, “We are very disappointed that the protesters have chosen to disrupt an industry that has already been decimated by the pandemic. The Ottawa International Airport is an important link for essential products and services for Canada’s north, and an important economic engine for the region. Disrupting our airport will hurt people who are already suffering, including passengers and employees who rely on our industry for their livelihood and wellbeing.”
While the protest died down after a few hours of encircling, the airport still encourages passengers to arrive early and expect delays as the Freedom Convoy shows no interest in disbanding anytime soon.