Atlantic Canada’s airports react to Federal Economic Statement

For immediate release

(HALIFAX) Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 – With passenger traffic down 90 percent this year compared to 2019, Atlantic Canada’s airports are anxiously awaiting further details on the air sector relief package announced in the federal government’s fiscal update on November 30.

“Passengers are the major source of operating revenues for airports,” says Derrick Stanford, president of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association and president of Saint John Airport. “And with virtually no passenger traffic through our airports since March, airports have been either borrowing to pay debt or using safety capital reserves to get through this period of negligible revenue.”

President of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association, Derrick Stanford

According to Stanford, Atlantic Canada’s airports are facing a net loss of $76 million in 2020.

Stanford said that Canada’s air sector has been among the most negatively hurt economically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The uniqueness of the air sector, the economic damage done, and the importance of the air sector warranted a specific support package. While we are still awaiting greater clarity on the measures announced, particularly around eligibility for the various programs referenced in the Minister’s speech, we recognize that it’s a step forward with specific support for small airports.

“This pandemic will come to an end.” says Stanford, “And when our provinces and territories do get back into an upswing our airlines and airports are going to be critical to rebuilding strong economies.”

Monette Pasher, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Airport’s Association, says that having a support commitment from the federal government is a key step in rebuilding the health of Atlantic Canada’s airports and they are interested to learn further detail as the situation is quite urgent.

“Airlines have been forced to implement significant cutbacks in service to Atlantic Canada because of almost nonexistent passenger demand. In order to have connectivity for our communities, we need financially healthy air carriers and airports. And we need to restore air service capacity to effectively connect people from coast-to-coast for business, trade and tourism, which will require a comprehensive solution and support for aviation recovery in Canada.” noted Pasher

Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association, Monette Pasher

Stanford cautions that while the federal government’s announcement of support is critical and much appreciated, airports still have a bumpy road ahead and we need more details: “We need rent relief until traffic recovers, we need support for air carriers, we need effective vaccines, we need access to testing to blend science with precautions to ease traveller restrictions and shorten quarantine times, and we need to work to increase consumer confidence for when Canadians are ready to return to travelling. And it could be three years or more before we’re back to pre-coronavirus passenger traffic levels.”

Media Inquiries:

Monette Pasher, Executive Director, Atlantic Canada Airports Association
Cell: (902) 802-5651

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