(Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Financial support for Quesnel airport on city council agenda

In its report RCAC emphasizes the vital role regional airports provide

A report from the Regional Community Airports of Canada calling for immediate COVID-19 financial support for regional airport operators is set to be reviewed by Quesnel City Council and the Cariboo Regional District next week.

At its most recent North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee meeting May 19, Jeff Norburn, director of community services with the City of Quesnel, recommended the City and the CRD consider sending letters of support to help secure funding for the Quesnel Regional Airport.

“RCAC is lobbying on behalf of all regional airports across the country to get the message to senior levels of government, particularly at the federal level, that small, regional airports have been hit hard by the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19,” Norburn told the Observer.

“A small airport like Quesnel, in addition to our airline carrier Central Mountain Air, is critical for the economy, and for the community.”

Norburn said the Quesnel Regional Airport is currently facing a large operating deficit, and noted commercial passenger traffic accounts for roughly 75 per cent of its revenue.

READ MORE: Quesnel Airport’s opening hours changing as Central Mountain Air reduces flights

“That’s a pretty substantial blow for regional airports to absorb,” he said. “And I think Quesnel is representative of what’s happening across the country in small, regional airports and it’s creating a situation — depending how long this goes — that we could start to see some small, regional airports can’t continue to operate because they’ve lost their primary source of revenue and that could have devastating impacts for small, regional communities.”

The RCAC is a national organization representing regional airports in Canada with a membership that includes 55 regional airports, including the Quesnel Regional Airport, and six provincial airport associations.

In its report RCAC emphasizes the vital role regional airports provide to the social, economic and medical connectivity of rural communities across Canada and how the COVID-19 pandemic could bankrupt and close some airports.

Central Mountain Air’s service has been suspended completely since April 9, resulting in a loss of an estimated $26,500 per month which, combined with a decrease in fuel sale profits is expected to result in a loss of revenue of up to $30,000 per month.

“One of the big problems is the operating costs of the airport doesn’t really change,” Norburn said. “That’s because you’ve still got to maintain the same standards at the airport.”

The RCAC is requesting an immediate support program for regional airports to replace lost revenues (up to 75 per cent of revenue through to Dec. 31, 2020), and that airports be eligible for zero interest medium term loans, and that Airport Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) funding be increased.

READ MORE: Central Mountain Air suspending flights, effective April 11

The RCAC is also suggesting airports who receive grants agree to reduce airport fees as a condition of the grant in order to stimulate air travel.

RCAC’s report will be reviewed during the Tuesday, May 26 Quesnel City council meeting.

“Council hasn’t made a decision yet but we’d like to try to encourage the City to be a part of that voice,” Norburn said.

“Make sure government knows the small, regional airports are hurting. While there’s been support for a variety of things, so far, small, regional airports have not been able to tap into any of that and are hurting badly.”



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Quesnel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Station House Gallery eyes reopening with unique shows

When the next art exhibit opens at Williams Lake’s The Station House… Continue reading

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

VIDEO: City hosts processions in celebration of Canada’s birthday

Via the Facebook page, there are also several Canada Day-themed crafts taking place

Day camps on this summer at Lake of the Trees Bible Camp

‘We have fought hard to keep camp open’

OUR HOMETOWN: The best of both worlds

Generally they start April 1 and stay until mid-October

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Most Read