Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC), addresses the current state of the Canadian aviation industry and asserts the crucial need for both financial and regulatory support from the government to drive the recovery of the sector.
One of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is a chronic case of whiplash as Canada’s aviation community tries to adapt in real time to fast-changing circumstances. The good news is that we are not where we were at the start of 2021. On 13 April 2021, the federal government announced a financial support package for our largest carrier, Air Canada, that includes up to $5.4 billion in low interest loans and a $500 million equity stake. In exchange, Air Canada agreed to reinstate or provide interline agreements for 20 regional airports that had seen their service suspended in the past year and to refund ‘non-refundable’ tickets. Similar packages for other carriers are expected to follow shortly.
There are other positive signs as well, as airlines look to ramp up domestic and international service as early as summer 2021 and small airports and communities have access to new federal funding to reinstate routes.
But these, and other recently announced measures, face serious headwinds: a slower-than-anticipated vaccine roll out and an increase in the number of virus variants in the populations have amplified people’s uncertainty about travelling, stalling any short term recovery.
Source: Civil Aviation Authority – Qatar