The Northern Air Transport Association (NATA) is advocating for potential solutions to reduce the impact northern Canadian airlines are feeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many northern air operators are seeing what is usually their busy season significantly reduced as the pandemic is causing customers to delay or cancel trips.
According to the association’s executive director Glenn Priestley, from March to October northern air operators are usually busy handling flights booked by tourists, outfitting camps, mining companies and exploration units.
Because of COVID-19, this type of revenue has been reduced from little to none for some companies.
Priestley said these carriers have to worry not only about paying employees with little revenue coming in but also trying to offset the costs of equipment maintenance and other expenses acquired during winter months.
“There’s no replacement for revenue,” he said “The most important thing is to get back to work. I mean, there’s not an operator in Canada, particularly in the north, that isn’t continually trying to manage their overhead costs. They’re innovative and they’re doing whatever it takes to be as efficient as possible.”
One suggestion NATA has brought forward to federal agencies is to ease travel and gathering restrictions.
Priestley said this would have to be done in a “Canadians first” approach meaning that provincial borders are opened first before opening the international border.
“We need to find ways, safely and carefully, so that the operators and the outfitters can once again begin accepting customers and providing their services to their customers.”
Other solutions the association has brought forward are ongoing financial support for these carriers as well as partnerships with governments and northern operators.
(PHOTO: Photo courtesy anonymous MBC volunteer photographer.)