Wednesday,  July 28, 2021  6:13 am

"Airports are running out of options," says CAC; calls for financial help continue

"Airports are running out of options," says CAC; calls for financial help continue
Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC).

“Honestly, the data is scary,” said Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC), once again calling on the Government of Canada to provide urgent financial support.

To illustrate the extent of the drop in passenger volume experienced by Canada's airports, Mr. Gooch mentions that the “best month” since the start of the pandemic was September. The drop in passenger volume reached "only" 85.2% that month.

It was still better than the 90% drop recorded on average since April!

The CAC reminds that, unlike many other countries, the majority of Canadian airports are not subsidized by the government: they depend on the revenues generated by air transport for passengers. 

However, as all the services offered are paid for by users, the system (deprived of these users and therefore of income) has collapsed.

The CAC stresses that despite its public statements on the importance of the air transport sector to Canadians, the limited interventions by the government to help airports (wage subsidy, suspension of ground rents) are not at all up to the task and airports continue to face problems. 

The CAC took note of the intentions formulated by the government (during the Speech from the Throne or in the subsequent statement by Transport Minister Marc Garneau), but “no timetable for the initiation of discussions has been established to date, and airports are running out of options,” says CAC.

“If the government does not intervene now to support these national assets, the consequences could be serious, not only for passengers, but also for communities,” insists Daniel-Robert Gooch.

The fact that Canada takes so long to act only increases the risk that our industry, when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, will take too long to get back on its feet, the CAC says.

CAC requests in Ottawa

  • Put in place a coherent and globally harmonized national program at airports to reduce or eliminate the period of quarantine imposed and restore consumer confidence in air transport.
  • Extend a moratorium of several years on rents granted to the eight busiest private airports, until activities resume.
  • Eliminate rents imposed on 14 small airports that have never been able to generate more than $15 million in government revenue.
  • Provide interest-free loans or direct operational support to airports.
  • Increase funding for the Airports Capital Assistance Program (PAIA) to very small airports to $95 million annually for a period of at least five years.
  • Create a new source of funding for airports not eligible for ACAP, in order to maintain safe infrastructure, pay for COVID-19 adaptation costs and adhere to new federal rules whose expected costs will exceed the $350 million.