Canada’s airports are calling on the federal government for a variety of measures to help them financially weather the COVID-19 crisis. Like most businesses, airports have seen crushing revenue losses in the last couple of months but they can’t just shut down and lay off all their employees. Airports have been a lifeline for medical supplies and personnel as well as hundreds of other essential services that only aviation can provide. A host of fixed costs relating to maintenance, safety and security must be covered to keep airports operating. “The health of the entire air transport system is not only essential to serving communities and Canadians through this crisis, but also key to our economic recovery once we begin to reopen the economy,” Joyce Carter, chair of the Canadian Airports Council told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Friday.
The government has already suspended ground lease rent payments from the not-for-profit private operators of the airports but Carter said her group wants the rent relief to be permanent. It also wants help to pay off debt incurred during the slowdown and means to help airports conserve cash. It also wants a package of loan guarantees at low interest rates to help them ramp up as things return to normal. There is also a call to help smaller airports meet their obligations to keep providing the vital links they facilitate.