Airports across B.C., like that in Prince Rupert, need immediate support to face the growing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Lee BC Liberal Transportation critic said on March 4, and is calling on the Minister of Transportation for urgent action.
“The air sector is one of many B.C. transportation services to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the tourism it relies on has all but halted in the past year,” Lee said in a press release. “But while tourism remains paused to keep British Columbians safe, government needs to be looking out for our province’s airports so that they will be able to serve as the gateways to B.C. when it is safe to do so. “
Prince Rupert Regional Airport (YPR) had all Air Canada flights in and out of the city cancelled on Jan. 23 leaving locals to drive almost two hours to Terrace for flight travel. The flight cuts led to more than 25 employees being laid off and the airport running on a skeleton crew.
Lee said in the last several months, numerous examples of B.C. airports having to take on massive debts or cancel important projects have been seen.
“It is time for the Minster to work with his federal counterparts to provide much-needed support,” Lee said.
In 2020, the Kelowna International Airport saw its lowest passenger levels since 1997. Meanwhile, the Air Traffic Control tower at the Prince George Airport is under review for closure, and Vancouver International Airport has had to cancel long-awaited capital projects, the media statement read.
“Airports are absolutely essential to our transportation networks — not just for tourism, but for the movement of goods and other vital services like medivacs and other emergency responses,” Lee said. “We need to see the NDP taking steps to ensure the long-term viability of our airports. I am calling on Minister Fleming to take immediate action, for the well-being of the many communities served by B.C. airports.”
The Northern View has reached out to YPR and Jennifer Rice, MLA for comment
K-J Millar | Journalist
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