Airlines demand ‘concrete plan’ for financial aid following throne speech


OTTAWA – Canada’s flight industry is taking some heart in signals from the throne speech that federal financial help is on the way but wants to see quick, clear action to support the sector, which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government’s speech from the throne Wednesday pledged “further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism.”

The National Airlines Council of Canada says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government needs to “immediately come forward with a … concrete plan” to help the travel sector recover.

The council, which represents the largest Canadian carriers like Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., says passenger numbers are down 94 percent from 2019 amid ongoing travel restrictions.

Canadian Airports Council president Daniel-Robert Gooch says tens of thousands of air industry jobs have been lost since March as costs and debt pile up, with the throne speech offering “some hope” to staunch the bleeding.

Unlike countries including France, Germany and the United States, Canada has held off on sector-specific support for carriers, instead rolling out financial aid available to many industries, such as a wage subsidy and loans starting at $60 million for large firms.

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