‘We wanted to be prepared … our recovery could be long and tedious,’ airport CEO says
CBC News · Apr 29, 2021
The Greater Sudbury Airport is preparing for change, once the pandemic is over and people start travelling again.
The development corporation that oversees the northern Ontario airport was approved by city council for a $5-million line of credit increase, bringing its total to $12.5 million.
Airport chief executive officer Todd Tripp told Sudbury city council Tuesday night that COVID-19 has added operational pressures.
“We just want to be prepared as we believe that we are a key economic driver for the city of Sudbury and the Greater Sudbury region,” he said.
The airport’s original borrowing limit was $7.5 million, meant for capital improvements and expansion projects. Although that total hasn’t been used up, according to Tripp, the $5-million approval will provide a cushion.
“We’re uncertain as to what industry is going to ask of us coming out of COVID, for the aviation industry,” he said.
“We wanted to be prepared because we believe — and as some of the experts in the industry have said — our recovery could be long and tedious for us to come out of this.”
Preparing for unknown
Some modifications have already been made to the airport terminal to keep travellers safe, but Tripp is unsure what more will have to be done once travel picks up.
“Some experts, if you can believe them, they’re saying that the pent-up demand to travel is going to be quite severe, especially in the leisure market.
“We may need these dollars to prepare our terminal building for a greater onslaught than we saw before,” he told councillors.
Ed Stankiewicz, executive director of finance, assets and fleet, told council the airport funds would not impact the city’s financial position, as it would come from the investment portfolio.
Other travel needs met
The Greater Sudbury Airport has kept going with essential travel, private flights and other services, despite the pandemic.
“We also have been maintaining a full-on service and supporting of the medical facilities in Sudbury with bringing in new patients and everything else through the airport,” said Tripp.
“We’ve also had increased cargo, as many people have been buying online through Amazon and others.”
The airport has not received any government relief over the past year, but is awaiting responses to federal funding applications.