ISSUE/SOURCE: WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO SMALL CANADIAN AIRPORTS?
Date: JANUARY 31, 2021
- The Airports Capital Assistance Program is a long-standing Government of Canada program that provides funding of $38 million per year to support safety-related capital investments at our country’s smaller passenger airports.
- Types of projects supported include the rehabilitation of runways, the replacement or upgrading of runway lighting the purchase of aircraft firefighting equipment, and the purchase of heavy airside mobile equipment such as runway snow blowers and snowplows.
- Since its inception, the program has invested almost $786 million in 904 projects at 182 airports across the country.
- In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government announced three temporary enhancements to the Airports Capital Assistance Program, which are intended to support airports in their recovery from the impact of COVID-19:
- First is the injection of an additional $186 million in funding to be spread equally over the next two years;
- Second is an increase in the minimum federal cost-share to 50% for the same period; and
- Third is that previously ineligible federally-owned airports with traffic of less than one million passengers per year will be eligible for Airports Capital Assistance Program funding, also for the next two years.
- These enhancements will provide Canada’s small airports with substantial financial support for the capital investments they need to make to maintain safe operations.
- The temporary enhancements to the Airports Capital Assistance Program are one of several targeted support measures put in place by the Government of Canada that are designed to provide much-needed support to airports.
- The air sector is also benefiting from broad based financial support Government of Canada measures including Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Business Credit Availability Program and the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility.
- The Airports Capital Assistance Program was implemented on April 1, 1995, as part of the National Airports Policy with a goal of assisting regional/local airport owners with the costs of safety-related capital infrastructure investments.
- To be eligible for funding under the existing Airports Capital Assistance Program, an airport must receive year-round regularly scheduled passenger service with a minimum of 1,000 passengers a year for the last three consecutive years, and not be federally-owned.
- Funding is currently provided to eligible airports on a cost-sharing basis based on passenger levels. Airports with less than 50,000 passengers per year are funded 100% by the government. There is a 5% reduction in funding level per 25,000 passengers up to 524,999 passengers.
- The current funding formula requires airports with a higher level of passenger traffic to contribute at a higher percentage. To recognize the social importance the Arctic, airports north of the 60th parallel benefit from a minimum federal cost-share of 85%.
- Eligible projects fall into three categories in descending order of priority:
- Priority 1: Safety-related airside projects such as the rehabilitation of runways, taxiways, aprons, etc, and aircraft firefighting equipment required by regulation;
- Priority 2: Heavy airside mobile equipment (safety related) such as runway snow blowers, runway snow plows, etc., and heavy airside mobile equipment shelters; and
- Priority 3: Air terminal building/groundside (safety related) such as sprinkler systems, asbestos removal, and barrier-free access.
- In order to help address the financial challenges faced by airports as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has announced an additional $186 million to be injected into the Airports Capital Assistance Program over two years (2021-2022 and 2022-2023).
- This funding will assist small airports fund safety investments despite lost revenue, and limit cost increases being passed on to passengers. In addition, for the same two-year period, the mnimum cost-sharing percentage will increase to 50%, and program eligibility will be expanded to allow the inclusion of National Airports System airports with less than one million passengers.