The Canadian Airports Council says federal assistance can’t come soon enough for airports across the country – especially those impacted by the Atlantic travel bubble.
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, announced last week that he is working on a package to help the sector.
Daniel-Robert Gooch is president of the Canadian Airports Council and says COVID-19 has devastated air travel.
“The air sector was the first to come down because of COVID-19, and we fear it’s going to be one of the last to get back up,” he says.
According to Gooch, air travel in Atlantic Canada is suffering more than other parts of the country.
“It’s not great anywhere, but there are some parts of the country where air traffic is only down by about 80 per cent versus the 90-92 per cent we are seeing in parts of Atlantic Canada,” he says.
The council has highlighted some ways Ottawa can help, and is hoping it acts before it’s too late.
“We’ve already seen nine airports announcing increases to their airport improvement fees, or landing fees, several of them in Atlantic Canada,” he says. “Unfortunately if we don’t get news on this within a few weeks I expect we will see more.”
He says passengers pay the bills at airports, and service cuts due to a lack of business can also be expected.
“We have concerns that when Canadians are ready to travel again, the service options, the choice of carriers, the affordable fares, that Canadians aren’t going to see what they were used to before the crisis,” he says.
The council would like to see the federal government provide immediate financial support to Canada’s airports through a moratorium on ground lease rents, interest-free loans, and infrastructure funding, among others.