The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) expressed thanks for the broad federal assistance that has helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic, but added more is needed to be done specifically to help airports.
CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch cited the benefits of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that allowed many airports to avoid some layoffs, but noted dozens of municipal and regional airports cannot access the program, as they are owned and operated by municipal, territorial or provincial governments.
He added programs like the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility only applies to the four busiest airports in Canada, adding it’s not that helpful even to those airports as they currently have access to credit at much more favorable rates.
Gooch offered lukewarm support for other federal programs, but said the government needs to implement solutions to directly support Canada’s airports and ensure critical air connections to communities remain viable.
“Given that this crisis will depress traffic for many months to come and airports expect recovery to take three to five years, without additional support many of Canada’s airports will be forced to increase charges to airlines, passengers and other clients,” Gooch said.
CAC is putting forward a number of new proposals, including waiving the Federal Airport Ground Rent for at least five years, interest-free loans, loan/bond guarantees or preferred payments to lenders, and small airport operational funding to cover the expenses of airports that connect communities to much-needed goods, workers, supplies and emergency services.
“Despite the crisis we are in, Canada’s airports remain committed partners to help the government and public health agencies contain the spread of the virus and ensure the safe passage of travelers and goods while continuing to facilitate medical services, search and rescue, and other essential functions,” Gooch said.