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Published on : Saturday, July 23, 2016
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a $27.6 million in funding for 13 regional airports under the Airports Capital Assistance Program. The trade association for airports, however, urges the federal government to act on recommendations to improve capital fund options for small airports going forward.
Daniel-Robert Gooch CAC President, said that, the Airports Capital Assistance Program has provided invaluable safety and security related support for Canada’s small commercial airports since airports were transferred to local management, and it is great to see the Government of Canada’s continued support of this program. For airports with fewer than 600,000 passengers a year, the government has always recognised the challenges associated with self-funding both airport operations and infrastructure needs. But they have airports and projects that should be eligible today and aren’t because of a quirk in federal policy.
The CAC has joined with other regional airports in the Partners for Regional Aviation Infrastructure to jointly promote reforms to ACAP, including:
A recent review of transport policy by former Cabinet Member David Emerson recommends the government increase capital funding for small airports, including additional funds for ACAP so that it can also fund the lengthening and surfacing of runways in remote and northern airports.
Six Small Airports Need Not Apply
Canada’s airports have lobbied for six years to eliminate a ban on National Airports System airports on federal land participating in federal infrastructure programs – including ACAP, with six airports’ infrastructure deficit accumulating as a result. After a CAC appearance in the spring, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance agreed – urging the government to “ensure that small National Airports System airports are not unfairly excluded from eligibility for infrastructure funds.”
NAS airports operate on a not-for-profit basis, but lease their land from the federal government under long term leases with assets reverting to the federal government after 60 years. Six NAS airports in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Gander, London, Prince George and Saint John have fewer passengers than the ACAP threshold and fall into this category – meaning they must pay rent to the federal government and are ineligible for ACAP and several other federal infrastructure programs.