WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Airport Authority (WAA) has announced that it will be increasing the Airport Improvement Fee (AIF) due to the decline in passengers during COVID-19.

It announced that starting on Sept. 1, 2020, the fee will be increased to $38 per passenger flying out of the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. The current fee is $25 per passenger.

"It is expected to take several years for travel to return to previous volumes. Canadian airports need to continue operating in order to move critical goods, support essential travel, receive medical flights, and more, yet revenues are directly linked to ticket sales, air traffic, and purchases of each traveller using the airport," the WAA said in a statement.

Tyler MacAfee, vice president of communications with the WAA, said there has been a 90 per cent decline in passengers since the pandemic started.

"So where we would normally see about 12,500 passengers a day, at some points we have been under 100 a day. We are still averaging about 200," said MacAfee.

The WAA said all air carriers that operate out of the airport apply the fee directly to passenger's tickets and carriers keep six per cent of the fee as part of processing.

MacAfee said the money is used for projects at the airport.

"The Airport Improvement Fee goes directly to infrastructure projects at the airport that have passenger-facing aspects to them. So, for example, the new terminal building, that is one that is still using AIF to pay off the debt for that, runway projects," he said, adding that the fee doesn't go towards general operating costs.

The fee does not apply to passengers who arrive in Winnipeg and continue their travels within four hours.

MacAfee said airports across the country and around the world are looking at fee increases, but added that every model is different.

"In Canada, we are a user-pay model. So airports in Canada generate their revenue through user pay."

He added that the fee increase will probably be in place for the next couple of years.