House Transport Committee on Air Travel
The Canadian Chamber’s Senior Director of Transportation, Infrastructure & Regulatory Policy, Robin Guy, spoke with the House of Commons Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Communities regarding the revitalization of Canada’s airports in an effort to encourage investment into air travel infrastructure and accessibility after the pandemic. Investment into our air travel infrastructure will help boost the recovery of the tourism industry that has struggled throughout the pandemic. Increasing accessibility at our airports will also mean that more Canadians are able to travel safely as restrictions ease across the country.
Guy highlighted three main priorities for the government’s revitalization of air travel, the first being a review of the current restrictions in place for travelling in Canada in order to ensure that the barriers to travel are still necessary as we see the effects of COVID ease nationally. Since 2019, airports have seen a 95% reduction in people travelling due to a combination of hesitancy to travel as well as public measures to reduce the transmission of the virus. This has resulted in a loss of $4.6 billion in revenue through 2020-2021 and a debt increase of $3 billion in order to keep the airports operational.
The second focus that Guy highlighted was the importance of investment into this industry. In 2016 Canadian airports contributed $48 billion in economic output, $19 billion in GDP, 194,000 jobs, and $13 billion in wages. With more investment into the air travel sector, we could see this kind of economic contribution again in Canada. This would not only boost the travel industry, but the tourism industry as well. Currently, access to airports is difficult for people living in rural communities. With more investment into services like airport shuttles and short distance flights to major hubs, rural communities will be better equipped to contribute to the tourism industry.
The final focus from Guy is the improvement of passenger experience and making travel more accessible for all Canadians. With many major airports currently facing security staffing shortages, it is time that we looked into the TSA pre-check system that allows for travellers to quickly make their way to terminals if they are cleared through security ahead of time. Passport processing has also seen major delays and the process for renewal needs to be reviewed in order to ensure that Canadians can travel without unnecessary delays.