Fredericton airport gets $3.8M from Ottawa to help offset pandemic losses

From CBC News – link to source story

CBC News · Posted: July 29, 2021

The Fredericton International Airport Authority is getting $3.8 million from Ottawa to help it cover expenses in light of losses incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Fredericton International Airport)

The Fredericton International Airport Authority Inc. is getting federal help to offset what it says is a $15-million loss in revenue it suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ottawa is giving the airport authority $3.8 million to help it maintain services and cover expenses in light of a severe drop in the number of flights going through the airport in the past year-and-a-half, said Johanne Gallant, president and CEO of the airport authority.

“So this will help with expenses, right. We’ve been using reserve money — and reserve money, that’s the fund for safety capital projects, so that [$3.8 million] is also helping preserve the reserve dollars and also help cover expenses with all the losses,” Gallant said.

The Fredericton International Airport, along with others in the province, saw a drastic reduction in flight traffic due to restrictions on travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flights by Air Canada and WestJet, which both suspended services at the airport for months, have returned as of June with the easing of restrictions, but Gallant said traffic at the airport still isn’t as high as it was before the pandemic.

Fredericton International Airport Authority president and CEO Johanne Gallant said the airport saw a 90 per cent drop in passenger traffic because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Fredericton International Airport)

“We have our carriers back and the frequency is not where it was pre-pandemic. However, as we continue, as people start traveling more, we’re going to see more frequency. So definitely optimistic for the future.”

Gallant said the airport authority had to lay off almost half of its 28 direct employees as a result of the 90 per cent drop in traffic. In recent weeks, however, it’s been able to rehire, with about 23 now back on the job, thanks in part to the federal Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

A news release by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency said the “non-repayable contribution” of $3.8 million will allow the airport to maintain essential services and collaborate with carriers to continue or re-establish routes to the region, as well as sustain 16 jobs.

“I look forward to seeing the Fredericton International Airport thriving once again, bringing people from far and wide to enjoy all we have to offer here in the capital city,” said Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, in the release.