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

Woman comes home to ‘entirely different’ Victoria after cruise ship, military base quarantine

Melanie Sibbitt booked herself a last-minute vacation on a cruise ship hit by COVID-19

Victoria street nurse thanks public for outpouring of donations

Businesses and individuals donated gloves, masks, sanitizers and more to frontline workers

COVID-19: Victoria moves homeless into 35 hotel rooms across the city

Mayor pleads with residents to stay inside during pandemic

Wheelchair user asks people to leave space on sidewalks to socially distance

Wendy Cox says many people are not stepping off the sidewalk to allow her space

Victoria brewery uses 3D-printer to make face shields for health care workers

Phillips Brewing is teaming up with engineers to create single-use medical equipment

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Most Read