The NWT and federal governments have pledged to provide $14.774 million in new funding in the latest round of pandemic support for the North’s aviation sector.
Announcing the funding on Friday, the territory said the money comes from a federal program to support essential air services to remote communities between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021. Canada is providing $12.558 million of the funding while the NWT government is responsible for the remaining $2.216 million.
“The plunge in air travel demand because of the coronavirus and travel restrictions aimed to stop its spread have put a harsh financial burden on an industry so critical in the North,” NWT finance minister Caroline Wawzonek said in a statement.
“We want to provide relief for this important industry as it struggles to remain in operation and as the NWT continues to depend on them for commerce and connectivity.”
Conditions for the funding require eligible passenger airlines and cargo and charter companies to continue to apply for any territorial and federal support they may qualify for. Airlines must also agree not to provide management bonuses, dividends, or shareholder distributions during the funding period and scheduled passenger services airlines must ensure a minimum level of routes.
Diane Archie, NWT’s minister of Infrastructure, noted that the aviation industry plays a “critical role” in the territory, enabling community resupply, air ambulance, search and rescue, and forest fire response.
“Continuing to find ways to support this industry, especially during this difficult time, remains a priority for our government and I am pleased that we are able to make this announcement today,” she said in a statement.
This is not the first time that the territorial and federal governments have announced funding to support the aviation industry during the pandemic.
In May 2020, the territorial government announced it intended to allocate $8.7 million in northern bailout funding from the federal government to five NWT passenger-based airlines offering scheduled service during the pandemic.
A month later in June, the territory announced $2.94 million in funding for 10 northern air operators who were not eligible for the earlier $8.7 million funding.
In September 2020, the NWT and federal governments announced they would be spending $20.145 million on the territory’s aviation sector to continue essential air service during the pandemic with the territory contributing $3.021 million.