The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) has presented a list of priorities for Canada’s airports following the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This plan was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Minister of Transport, the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, and leaders of Canada’s aviation industry, who all met to discuss the lessons learned from the pandemic at an Air Sector Recovery Summit.
As COVID-19 presented many challenges for the travel and tourism sector, the CAC has outlined several steps that the industry and government could take to help continue to meet passenger expectations, evolve the airport experience and ease pressure on airports.
Due to a lack of income from user fees, Canadian airports took on 3.2 billion GBP in debt to continue operating essential services during the pandemic.
Servicing this debt and paying deferred rent to the federal government will make it difficult for airports to finance infrastructure projects that are vital to future operations.
Reinvesting rent payments for all airports over the next decade would thus release billions of dollars that could be used for such projects.
Additionally, the CAC recommends that the government should deploy funding programmes for the ‘greening’ of airport assets and should recapitalise the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) to support infrastructure at Canada’s smaller airports.
The CAC said it was vital for the industry to work with the government to streamline the passenger experience at borders and security checkpoints.
To achieve this, airports would benefit from co-ordinated support in implementing new technologies such as facial confirmation and trusted traveller programmes that can facilitate seamless traffic flow.
Requirements to share data across Canada’s aviation ecosystem would help Canadian airports serve passengers better, make more informed investment decisions and remain more competitive.
The CAC noted that Europe and the US did this and benefitted from higher-quality decisions and better responses to predictable and unpredictable operations compared to Canada.
Service-level standards should be established for each stage of the travel journey.
In order for airports to work more closely with all aviation stakeholders, data transparency, stakeholder accountability and collaborative frameworks would be required, the plan said.
The CAC said it recognised that Canada’s airports had made significant progress since the height of the pandemic, but the industry must continue working with the government and all partners on mutually beneficial solutions, such as those discussed at the Air Sector Recovery Summit.
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