By Daniel-Robert Gooch | 17 January 2022
Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council, explains how post‑COVID-19, Canada is in a prime position to begin rebuilding a safer and optimal airport network and environment.
With 86 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated, and international travel restrictions easing, Canada is in a good position to begin to rebuild a competitive, sustainable, and safe airport network.
But first, we need to remove the last of the unnecessary travel restrictions that are stifling demand and ensure that government supports will continue until passenger numbers – and revenues – return to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
The Canadian government has been hyper-cautious in reopening international borders, only lifting its global travel advisory for non-essential travel at the end of October.
Despite Canada’s high vaccination and compliance levels, dozens of airports-of-entry still do not have international flights, costing airports $1 million a month in lost revenue, restricting outbound travel, and reducing international tourism and trade. And even though all inbound travellers must be fully vaccinated, Canada still requires them to show a negative PCR test, which is expensive and time consuming.
COVID-19 can be both unpredictable and insidious, but our air system can be trusted. Airports and airlines have been relentless in applying safety and health protocols that have protected passengers and workers from the earliest days of the pandemic. As well, most Canadians – and travellers – support vaccine mandates and masking at airports and on airplanes.
It is essential that we get passenger numbers and revenue back up as quickly as possible, as up until the pandemic, Canada’s not-for-profit airports relied almost solely on passenger generated revenues for operations and capital projects. While government finally put aviation-specific funding programmes into place this summer, airports were already on their way to accumulating new debt of over $2 billion and revenue losses of $5.5 billion.