Regional air transportation is crucial to local economic growth, the movement of goods and the connectivity of Canadians across the country. The pandemic has had major impacts on regional air transportation ecosystems, impacting communities and local businesses from coast to coast to coast.
The Government of Canada’s Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI), launched in March 2021, supports access to air transportation and regional ecosystems. In particular, it enables the continuation of existing air routes and ensures airports remain operational and able to contribute to regional economic growth, while adapting to new post-COVID-19 realities and requirements.
Federal government supports operating capital, establishing routes
With this in mind, Serge Cormier, Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst , on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA, today announced $1.5 million in financial support for the Northern New Brunswick Airport Authority (NNBAA).
The NNBAA operates the Bathurst Regional Airport, providing the infrastructure for commercial and passenger flights that support sustainable economic development for the region. This non-repayable contribution will enable the NNBAA to maintain airport operations in Bathurst and help mitigate economic hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regional air transportation is key to the economic development of communities and businesses right across Canada. It is essential to connecting Canadians living in rural and remote communities to urban centres, delivering Canadian goods to the global market and welcoming international visitors to all parts of the country, when it is safe to do so.
“It is important to protect our regional air transportation ecosystems for the thousands of workers employed by this sector and for the many businesses and communities that depend on it. We know that air connectivity to all regions is essential to healthy, inclusive economic growth, and supporting it is part of our plan to build back a stronger, more resilient economy.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA
“The Bathurst Regional Airport is an important piece of infrastructure for the economic health of the region. Providing essential services for businesses and passengers alike, the airport is a driver of growth and prosperity for Bathurst and the surrounding communities. This funding will help maintain these critical operations as we look forward to post-pandemic recovery – and a time when we can once again welcome travellers from far and wide to enjoy what we have to offer in Northern New Brunswick.”
– Serge Cormier, Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst
“The Bathurst Regional Airport is beyond appreciative of the Regional Air Transportation Initiative and the way the Government of Canada has supported the essential air services of our country. Without this program, the region of Northern New Brunswick would have been disconnected from the nation. The whole of the Acadian Peninsula relies on the Bathurst Regional Airport and, through the support of the federal government, we have been able to ensure critical connections for businesses, medical services and families to the rest of our country.”
– Jamie DeGrace, Chief Executive Officer, Northern New Brunswick Airport Authority
The RATI, administered by the regional development agencies (RDAs), has a national budget of $206 million.
The Initiative supports regional air ecosystems-which include regional air carriers and airports, as well as SMEs and non-profit organizations-in developing and implementing enhanced services for improved regional connectivity.
The funding announced today is conditional on the signing of a contribution agreement between the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Northern New Brunswick Airport Authority (NNBAA).
The RATI complements measures implemented by Transport Canada.
Operating since 1969, the Bathurst Regional Airport serves a population of 150,000 people and 5,500 businesses in the area. The airport serves as a vital link between Northern New Brunswick and many major centres across Canada and the world.