Provincial measure is among a number announced Thursday to restart air travel in the coming months
Governments announced concrete steps Thursday to try to restart Canada’s moribund aviation industry. They are led by Prince Edward Island, which promised $1 million to help restart air travel to Charlottetown.
“This initiative is focused on supporting the creation of a multi-year plan,” the province said in a strategy released Thursday. It includes route development. Airports routinely pitch airlines on potential routes. But they need data to convince carriers that a route is worth their investment.
Or, the airport may need to have some skin in the game. Last June, Swoop, which served Charlottetown before the pandemic, called for airport partners to establish service. While the airline said it received pitches from more than 70 airports, only seven Canadian destinations appear in this summer’s route map. Charlottetown is not among them.
Still, the money is being well received.
“We are extremely pleased that the Government of PEI has recognized the importance of air access for our province by providing this funding for an Air Access Recovery Program,” said Doug Newson, CEO of YYG Charlottetown Airport. “We look forward to working together to rebuild and grow critical air service options that will be vital to our economic recovery, both for our tourism industry and business sectors.”
Restoring the Atlantic bubble
At the same time, premiers of the four Atlantic provinces said they will restore the so-called Atlantic bubble by mid-April. It allows residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador to travel freely in the region. The bubble will be restored April 19.
“Premiers are encouraged by Atlantic Canadians’ adherence to public health measures, the containment of regional outbreaks, and the progress in rolling out vaccines,” they said in a statement. The provinces imposed a similar regime over the summer, but the bubble collapsed as COVID cases spiked in the winter.
The move is designed to help the province achieve what Nova Scotia’s premier calls “more normalcy.”
But that doesn’t mean the provinces will lift restrictions on people coming from outside the region.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” said Nova Scotia Premier Iain Ranking at a news conference. “It was briefly mentioned if we had wanted to mention it in the release and we decided it wouldn’t be appropriate at this time until we have further vaccinations out into the public.”
$9 million for B.C. airports
Meantime, on Canada’s West Coast, British Columbia announced $9 million for 29 projects at airports across the province. That includes almost $500,000 for repaving and electrical work at Abbotsford International. And $580,000 to rehabilitate an apron at Boundary Bay, Canada’s busiest airport last year.
“We know the pandemic has caused financial stress for many industries and significantly impacted our aviation sector throughout B.C., including our community airports,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “But we’re also looking to better days ahead, post-pandemic.”
The money is earmarked for infrastructure projects. But a union representing workers at a number of B.C. airports said the needs go further. What airports really need, they said, is money to pay for basic operations.
“While the federal government has provided some support for infrastructure to these airports, none of it addresses the real problem of helping them meet their basic operational costs,” said Barry Tchir, Regional Vice President of the Canadian Union of Transportation Employees. “The government must consult with the Airport Authorities to learn where they are hurting the most. Communities across the province rely on airports, the government must not let them down.”
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