Federal government provides financial boost for N.B. airports

The airline industry has been hit hard after travel almost ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, two New Brunswick airports received a welcomed financial boost from the federal government, as they prepare for more passengers as part of the country’s pandemic reopening.

At an announcement Friday morning, Canada’s Minister of Transportation announced that the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport will receive over $1.8 million from Transport Canada's airport relief fund.

Funding will go towards helping the airport recover from the impact that COVID-19 has had on the industry.

“We’ve been really ready and willing to supporting airports at this time of need because we need them not only to sustain economic and social fabric, but we need them to be strong as we are building back better,” said Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Minister of Transport. “Airports are incredibly important, not only as economic hubs but also as connectors for communities and for individuals.”

The Moncton airport will also receive just over $5 million, which will pay for fixing up runways, replacing taxiway signs and allow for the purchase of an aircraft rescue vehicle, said the minister.

The airport's CEO says this funding has come at a perfect time.

“When we look at just to pay for day to day so whether it be the staff or electricity, those types of things, we’re already at a deficit for the year so it’ll help us keep paying for those expenses until we see the passengers coming back,” said Bernard LeBlanc, president and CEO of the Greater Moncton International Airport.

While air traffic is slowly returning to the airport, their CEO doesn’t expect international flights to return to Moncton until early next year.

While the Saint John airport hasn't had a commercial flight since January, the interim president is relieved to hear they are also getting more than one-million dollars from the federal government.

"We lost significant revenue throughout 2020 and 2021 to date so this is a significant boost to help us continue operations,” said Greg Hierlihy, interim president of the Saint John airport.

With travel restrictions easing over the course of the summer, Maritime airports are charting a course for recovery in the second half of 2021.