November 24, 2022
The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) was pleased to join Canada’s Minister of Transport, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, and leaders of Canada’s air sector to discuss lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, the CAC and our members have worked diligently to innovate and improve the airport experience for passengers and welcomed the opportunity to discuss critical aviation issues.
All Canada’s airports operate with a passenger-first, business mindset. We are lucky to count Canada’s airports as many of the best airports in the world.
Without question, COVID-19 was a challenging time for the travel and tourism sector, disrupting a global aviation superpower. The pandemic’s impact on Canada’s airport experience should not be used to gauge the value of Canada’s airport model.
Today, the CAC outlined several steps industry and our government partners can take to help us meet passenger expectations, evolve the airport experience, and ease pressure on airports.
Infrastructure Investments: Deprived of user fee revenue, Canadian airports took on $3.2 billion in new debt to continue operating as essential services during the pandemic. Servicing this debt and paying deferred rent to the federal government will make it difficult to finance the infrastructure projects that are vital to airport operations. Reinvesting rent payments for all airports over the next decade would release billions of dollars that can be used for these projects. Additionally, the Government should deploy funding programs for the Greening of Airport Assets and recapitalize the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) to support infrastructure at Canada’s smaller airports.
Accelerate the adoption of digital solutions: It is vital that industry work with government to streamline the passenger experience at borders and security checkpoints. We need coordinated support to implement new technologies such as facial confirmation and trusted traveller programs that can facilitate traffic flow more seamlessly.
Data sharing: 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. Europe and the US do this and benefit from higher quality decisions and better response to predictable and unpredictable operations.
Establish Service Level Standards at Each Step of the Travel Journey: Airports want to work more closely with all aviation stakeholders to serve the travelling public; however, the establishment of service level standards also requires three key ingredients: data transparency, stakeholder accountability and collaborative frameworks.
Canada’s airports have made significant progress since the worst days of the pandemic; they still have a long way to go. As an industry, we must continue working with the government and all partners in the ecosystem on mutually beneficial solutions.
Air connectivity for passengers, supply chains and regional economies is essential to Canada’s competitiveness. The Air Sector Recovery Summit was a welcome conversation. We hope that by having more dialogue in the coming months, we can make travel the best possible experience for all Canadians and visitors to our country.