FILE - The international arrival area at Trudeau International Airport is seen Monday, March 16, 2020 in Montreal. The head of the Canadian Airports Council says airports are poised to lose $1.3 billion due to COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

Airports poised to lose $1.3 billion amid travel collapse, says industry group

Canadian Airports Council president asked Transport Minister for roughly $380 million in relief

Canadian airports are poised to lose $1.3 billion amid an ongoing global travel collapse triggered by COVID-19, says group representing the country’s airports.

“This is a situation that’s unprecedented,” Canadian Airports Council president Daniel-Robert Gooch said in a phone interview. “Airports are having some conversations now about what their financial futures look like.”

Many major airlines will be operating at half capacity by next month amid border closures and slashed flight schedules, causing fees garnered from carriers and passengers to dry up, Gooch said.

He has asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau for relief on the roughly $380 million in rent that non-profit Canadian airport authorities pay Ottawa each year.

Gooch said support could come as a rent deferral or reduction, that would help offset fixed costs such as runway maintenance.

Airports directly employ about 194,000 workers, some of whom will see their jobs in jeopardy as terminals and check-in counters clear out, he added.

“We know that the airport concessions — food, beverage, retail — they have been hit as well,” he said.

ALSO READ: YVR to increase COVID-19 screen of international passengers

The Canadian Airports Council represents 53 airports, including the country’s three largest that account for the bulk of federal airport rent.

Earlier on Tuesday, the head economist at the International Air Transport Association said revenue losses around the world are already surpassing the trade group’s worst-case projection of US$113 billion and threatening to send multiple airlines into bankruptcy.

Brian Pearce said a recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic will not come until September at earliest. “The challenge we face today is: Can airlines last that long before they run out of cash?”

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada will close its borders to most foreign nationals except Americans and bar anyone, including Canadian citizens, with symptoms of the illness from boarding flights to this country.

ALSO READ: Passenger on Vancouver-Kelowna flight tests positive for COVID-19

Air Canada said hours earlier it would halve its seat capacity in the second quarter and withdraw its earnings forecast for 2020 and 2021 amid a “severe drop in traffic” due to the outbreak, which has infected more than 168,000 people and killed at least 6,600, according to the World Health Organization.

The announcement sent company shares into a tailspin, with the stock plunging to $16.23 by midday Tuesday — roughly one-third of its price two months ago.

WestJet announced Monday night it was suspending all commercial operations for international and transborder flights for a 30-day period.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Alberta predicting 400 to 6,600 deaths from COVID-19 in months to come

Alberta predicting 400 to 6,600 deaths from COVID-19 in months to come

Alberta RCMP have reported being threatened with COVID-19

Some members of the public are threatening RCMP by claiming to have COVID-19 and coughing on them.

25 new cases Tuesday in Alberta, provincial total at 1,373

Premier Jason Kenney to provide more information later in the evening

Rimbey pet store is delivering to keep furry friends fed

Ma & Paw’s Pet Supplies is doing curbside pickup and doorstep delivery for pet owners.

Ponoka RCMP arrest male from Rimbey

Ponoka RCMP briefs from March 30 to April 6

WATCH: Update from Prime Minister Trudeau

April 8 briefing from Ottawa

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

Liberals asked to help cover overruns on projects delayed by COVID-19

$5 billion in federal funding for 607 projects

COVID-19 sparks rise in online child predators, says UNICEF chief

Canada’s efforts to help young girls and women recognized

More help on way for those not eligible for emergency aid programs

A retooled Canada Summer Jobs program to be announced

Celebrated singer-songwriter John Prine has died at 73

Celebrated singer-songwriter John Prine has died at 73

Dr. Donald: why the U.S. president keeps touting an unproven COVID-19 treatment

Dr. Donald: why the U.S. president keeps touting an unproven COVID-19 treatment

Most Read