NWT announces $2.9M for airlines overlooked in earlier funding
The NWT government says it is providing $2.94 million in funding to a range of northern air operators who were not eligible for earlier federal pandemic support.
In early May, the territory channelled $8.7 million in money from Ottawa to five airlines. That funding had been designated specifically for scheduled passenger airlines.
On Friday, extra cash provided directly by the NWT government was announced for a further 10 companies.
Summit Air, Great Slave Helicopters (GSH), and Buffalo Airways are the biggest beneficiaries.
Summit will receive $1.25 million while GSH is given around $500,000 and Buffalo just under $400,000.
The remaining companies to benefit are South Nahanni Airways, Landa Aviation, Acasta Helicopters, Denendeh Helicopters, K’ahsho Helicopters, Sahtu Helicopters, and Dehcho Helicopters.
The NWT government said the money would ensure the companies can continue to provide “connections into communities [and] essential goods like food and medical supplies.”
According to the territory, the money is designed to help companies with the cost of operating from April 1 to June 30. More is being sought from the federal government to provide assistance beyond that point.
The aviation industry has been hard-hit by the pandemic, with a near-total loss of passenger revenue and the loss of custom from a range of businesses.
The NWT government said other changes at airports, like the waiving of landing fees and lease, licence, and concession fees, were expected to have saved the local aviation industry around another $2 million by this point.
Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson and Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson had each raised concerns about funding for smaller NWT operators and cargo airlines in the legislature this week.
“My concern is that we’re going to end up losing them, either to bankruptcy or to having them move south,” said Simpson.
In response, finance minister Caroline Wawzonek had said the NWT was working to provide funding internally as more federal assistance did not seem likely to emerge soon.
“The latest word that we’ve had from Transport Canada is that they will be taking some time and that the funding hopefully be coming from them is not necessarily imminent,” Wawzonek said.
“I’m happy to be surprised and to be wrong if that’s not the case but, right now, it’s not imminent.
“It’s coming but not imminent, and they’re still doing quite a lot of work in order to determine how much they’ll be able to provide.”