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Aviation and Aerospace: Our Keys to Economic Recovery

Dave Frank British Columbia Aviation Council

Dave Frank

Executive Director, British Columbia Aviation Council

As the economy continues to reel from COVID-19 and recession approaches, a major part of the solution to our challenges lies with Canada’s aviation industry.

“Not quite dead yet.” — This could be the mantra of Canada’s aviation sector after surviving traffic declines of as much as 87 per cent over the past two years. But air transportation faces serious headwinds as it struggles to recover.

That’s very easy to understand. However, the effect this has on our economy is often forgotten in the discussion. Air transportation is the most powerful socio-economic development infrastructure there is. Where aviation goes, the economy follows.

For example, Canada’s second largest airport, Vancouver International, pre-COVID-19, contributed over $10 billion to Canada’s GDP — twice that of our largest port.

In addition to providing raw economic horsepower, imagine where our air ambulance, fire suppression, emergency response, and remote and Indigenous services would be without a robust aviation infrastructure.

Fees and excessive regulations

Despite being the keystones to socio-economic growth, the industry is buried under fees and excessive regulations. Instead of viewing aviation as a critical enhancer of our economy, it’s viewed by the government as a cash cow. We need to turn this thinking around: air transportation is a vital investment.

There’s much that can be done immediately to address this:

  • Formally recognize the aviation system as a critical infrastructure for socio-economic development.
  • Fees collected for security, international travel, and others must directly go toward the organization they were collected for — and not as federal government general revenues.
  • Freeze airport rents collected by the federal government.
  • Fund and deliver Transport Canada services at world-class levels.
  • Triple the funding for the Airport Capital Assistance Program and expand eligibility to include airports without scheduled passenger service.

These would be welcome first steps toward unleashing the power of our aviation industry to the benefit of all Canadians.

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