"After 10 gruelling months of crushing ridership drops while keeping passengers and workers healthy and safe, airports are at their wits' end," says Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC).
Airports just borrow to keep operating ,while airlines park planes and cancel routes, he explains.
Gooch describes certain measures announced by the government as positive - "notably the measures announced in the Fall Economic Statement."
However, these measures are not enough to repair the long-term damage caused by "the suppression of travel by the government, the absence of a coordinated national screening plan and the uncertainty about the deployment of vaccines," he says.
None of this is coming back anytime soon
The President of the CAC recalls that before the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada's airports, airlines and air navigation system experienced 10 years of growth.
What is more, "they have continuously supported this growth by reinvesting in airport infrastructure and developing regional and global links and connectivity," he says.
They have thus made it possible to create tens of thousands of jobs and support the strong growth of the Canadian tourism industry, which represents $104 billion dollars.
However: “If we continue down the current path, none of this will come back anytime soon...We need to start now to prepare for when people will be ready to travel again in greater numbers," he says.
PCR screening tests before departure
With this in mind, the Canadian Airports Council has identified a number of key measures to move forward quickly.
The first step suggested by the CAC is to meet Canada's current needs for pre-departure PCR testing, through a strong set of nationally consistent and internationally compliant testing protocols to reduce increase the risk of introducing the virus into the country and help reduce or eliminate the quarantine.
The CAC recommends that the following measures be taken:
- Waive airport rent for the eight busiest airports until full resumption of operations, and eliminate this rent for the remaining 14 small airports that pay rent based on revenue;
- Provide interest-free loans or direct operational support to airports that are not eligible for other sector programs; and
- Implement and monitor current commitments, including the expansion of the Regional Airline Initiative under the Airport Capital Improvement Program, reduced rents and infrastructure spending and ensure they are effective, adjusting them if additional support is needed.
“When they return from their vacation, MPs will have a lot to consider, but air service is a priority. They must immediately move from good intentions to action," said Mr. Gooch.
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