The aviation industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with profits and passenger numbers declining due to travel restrictions and border closures.
(Ottawa) The federal government will launch a package of programs to support airports with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding first announced last November.
A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement is not yet public, said Ottawa has established criteria for airports to have access to $ 740 million in investment over the next six years.
About 490 million of this windfall will go to major airports for critical infrastructure such as runway repairs and transit stations. Much of the rest will be directed to smaller airports, the definition of which has been temporarily relaxed to allow eight other sites to apply, from Prince George, British Columbia, to Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The government had already announced an envelope of 206 million over two years to support regional air transport, and another of 229 million for additional rent relief to 21 airport authorities. Rent was waived for one to three years for small airports and postponed for one year for Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
The aviation industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with profits and passenger numbers declining due to travel restrictions and border closures. However, airports derive most of their revenue from landing and cargo handling charges from carriers, and parking fees and “airport improvements” from travelers.
Canadian Airports Council President Daniel-Robert Gooch said in an interview that any federal support will be welcome, but even half a billion dollars for large airports will not be enough to meet the needs.
“We know the $ 500 million will likely be overshadowed by other projects,” such as the constant need to upgrade infrastructure.
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra stressed last week the need for a “common platform for the recognition of the vaccination status of travelers”. He suggested that the G7 countries were currently working to integrate in the coming months a form of “vaccination passport” for international travel.
Mr. Gooch said airports have not yet been invited to take part in this discussion. “This is something we have wanted to discuss with the government for some time,” he said.
The federal budget tabled in April provided $ 82.5 million for rapid screening tests at airports when travel resumes. “We’re still waiting for details on what that means, but we think we’ll get those details pretty soon,” Gooch said.