According to Daniel-Robert Gooch, Chairman of the Canadian Airports Council, the cost of a 14-day quarantine and the many travel restrictions imposed on Canadians are causing significant and potentially irreparable damage to the airline industry.
"The Government of Canada and its provincial and territorial counterparts must institute more effective measures, such as rapid screenings and contact tracing, to identify and isolate people with the virus, while enabling healthy travellers to enter Canada without being imposed a quarantine," he wrote in recent bulletin.
Increased fees, reduced services
The CAC president stated that travel has fallen by some 90 per cent following the restrictions and travel warnings issued by the government. This threatens the ability of airports to serve passengers, airlines and communities, he insisted.
"If the low demand continues, as many anticipate, airports will be forced to consider a series of undesirable options, such as an increase in user fees or a reduction, or even an elimination of services offered to their residents. and their community," he wrote.
Gooch said the Canadian airport model, based on the user-pay principle, worked very well until the onset of COVID-19.
“However, a user-pays based system cannot work if the user is not there,” he observed.
Ottawa intervention requested
To deal with the catastrophic financial losses that continue to accumulate, the CAC calls for the intervention of the Government of Canada. The Council mentions that the American government, for its part, has already intervened.
“Indeed, U.S. airports have a competitive advantage, as the federal government has already granted them $10 billion to help them recover from the crisis."
According to Gooch, as travel and border restrictions have dramatically reduced revenues and passenger volumes - “ for a much longer period than would have been anticipated ” - a government commitment for financial support over several years is required.
CAC management met with high-level elected representatives to identify solutions that allow airports to maintain essential air links to communities, while protecting the health and safety of travellers and staff.
“Things will certainly remain difficult for us in the weeks and months to come. However, Canada's airports remain ready to work with the federal government to put the airline industry back on its feet and once again make it the vibrant and flourishing national asset that it was just a year ago," he concluded.
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