The union representing workers at Airport Authorities in British Columbia is calling on the provincial and federal governments to do more to help regional airports survive the devastating effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their ability to operate effectively.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on smaller airports like Kamloops, Prince George and Prince Rupert. Without funding to keep essential staff in place, perform regular maintenance, and meet ongoing operational costs, these airports are in danger of shutting down and will find it difficult to re-open.
Regional airports in British Columbia are a significant source of employment for their communities and an important facilitator of economic development for the whole province.
“As recovery from the pandemic moves forward, regional airports will be an essential building block.” says Barry Tchir, Regional Vice President of the Canadian Union of Transportation Employees. “Airports lie at the foundation of the tourism industry and many other sectors of the economy. They are part of the economic engine that will drive our province forward.”
According to its most recent economic impact study, Kamloops Airport supports more than 850 jobs in the community, generating $72.2 million in total economic output annually. Prince George and Prince Rupert airports also generate hundreds of jobs in their communities and within their regions.
“While the federal government has provided some support for infrastructure to these airports, none of it addresses the real problem of helping them meet their basic operational costs. The government must consult with the Airport Authorities to learn where they are hurting the most.” explains Tchir, “Communities across the province rely on airports, the government must not let them down.”
The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, represents workers who supply key services such as emergency response, customer care, maintenance, and administrative services at airports throughout British Columbia.