CALGARY -- Officials with the Calgary International Airport say the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge drop of passengers coming through its terminals.

The organization says just 67,000 guests arrived and departed in April 2020, the steepest decline in travel it has seen in its history.

"We are projecting 65 per cent fewer guests in 2020 compared to last year. We expect YYC will go from a record 18 million passengers in 2019 to approximately 6.4 million in 2020. That’s roughly the same passenger volume as we had in 1996,” said Rob Palmer, vice president and chief financial officer of The Calgary Airport Authority in a release.

In the meantime, Palmer says the authority has also needed to change a number of its practices, especially when it comes to hygiene and sanitation throughout the terminals.

"We continue to support the public health recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining enhanced cleaning throughout the terminal, access to hand sanitizers and messaging about hand hygiene, reinforcing social distancing recommendations and mask requirements, and assisting federal and provincial agencies as they lead the screening of international arriving guests."

There is some good news in the monthly update. Palmer says, through federal help, 80 employees that were laid off because of the pandemic have been rehired. The federal government has also agreed to help airports with their rent until the end of the year.

However, that measure will need to remain in place for years in order to help with the debt that is piling up.

Unfortunately, that could lead to higher prices for airlines and guests.

"Airports, airlines and the aviation industry will be forever changed by the pandemic, and we will need financial help from the government to sustain our operations and to help lead in the recovery. While our hope is that we are not forced to increase fees to airlines or guests, without government financial assistance we have few other options," Palmer said.

The authority says the pandemic has also resulted in over 50 per cent of the facility remaining closed. More than 80 per cent of restaurants and shops are closed and demand for parking, rental cars, taxis and ridesharing is also down by over 90 per cent.