After over two years, the Kenora Airport (YKQ) can now welcome their friends from the south once again, as their international status has been reinstated by the federal government.

As of May 15, 2022, Kenora will once again be considered an Airport of Entry, which means that American travelers flying into the community can clear customs here, instead of at a previously designated airport.

“With our airport, what that means that folks coming in from the US in a private or corporate aircraft are allowed to land at our airport and clear customs, as long as they are up to 15 travelers, they can’t be over 15 travelers,” says Ryan Reynard, Chairman of the Kenora Airport Authority.

Reynard still needs to get clarification from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on how many officers will be available at the airport, but he notes their current schedule shows an availability of seven days a week from 8 a.m to 8 p.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created little to no airline traffic at the airport over the past two years, but now with this announcement, Reynard says he is excited to welcome American travelers flying into Kenora once again.

“We’re very excited that it’s coming back. It allows the travelers coming up to enjoy the beautiful resorts that we have in this area. It gives them the opportunity to come back up and visit us.”

Reynard says the word has spread quickly, and the airport has received a significant amount of inquiries on the availability, and the process of being able to fly into the airport. He also mentions that resorts in the area are excited about this announcement as well, with the hope this news will increase reservations this summer.

The federal government announced on March 17 that effective April 1, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada by air, land, or water.

All travellers continue to be required to submit their mandatory information in the ArriveCAN app or website before their arrival in Canada.

Like most regional airports in northwestern Ontario, the airport relies on the revenue created by Americans chartering flights into Kenora.

“Now that we’re hopefully coming to the endemic stages here, we’re really hoping it’s going to be back to a normal summer or as close as we can for now. At the airport, we rely on a lot of those revenues coming in on folks coming up from the states. Again there is a bit of excitement at the airport that hoping we get back to kind of a regular year.”

The pandemic forced the airport to temporarily lay off some employees to counteract the economic downturn due to COVID-19.

Through this tough time, the federal government has stepped in to assist the Kenora Airport along with many airports across the region with COVID-19 supports.

FedNor launched the Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI), in 2021 to support access to air transportation and regional ecosystems through the pandemic.

In mid-August of 2021 Kenora received just $439,512 to assist with the movement of goods and passengers.

On March 18, 2022, it was announced the airport received $509,886 to replace aging equipment and update systems within the airport.