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, affecting 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.
Helping the Saint John Airport stay in business
With this in mind, Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for Saint John – Rothesay, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA, today announced $3,800,000 in financial support for Saint John Airport Inc. This corporation provides air travel services for the residents of southwestern New Brunswick as well as commercial services and private operators. This non-repayable contribution will enable the airport to mitigate economic hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain operations and essential services.
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.
“Regional air transport is essential to sound economic development of communities and businesses here in the Saint John region. This funding will help the airport maintain essential services and jobs as we move toward a post-pandemic recovery. I look forward to seeing the Saint John Airport thriving once again, bringing people from far and wide to enjoy all we have to offer here in southwestern New Brunswick.”
– Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for Saint John – Rothesay
“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, Member of Parliament for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
“On behalf of everyone at the Saint John Airport, I would like to express our whole-hearted thanks and appreciation to the federal government for the $3.8M in funding through the Regional Air Transportation Initiative. Through this funding, the federal government recognizes the vital function our airport plays in the economic growth of Southwestern New Brunswick, and the important role YSJ will play in our community’s post-pandemic recovery – in the months and years ahead. YSJ connects the Greater Saint John region to the rest of Canada and the world. We know our ability to facilitate travel to and from our region has a direct positive impact on the recovery of business, tourism, population growth and retention. This funding will not only enable the Saint John Airport to recover from the negative economic impacts of COVID-19, it will help YSJ to emerge better than ever before – so that we can continue to provide safe and reliable travel options for our community.”
– Mark Bettle, Board Chair, Saint John Airport Inc.
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 and the Saint John Airport.
The RATI complements measures implemented by Transport Canada.