Québec is extending assistance for regional and remote air services

Québec prolonge l’aide pour les services aériens régionaux

Due to the abandonment of some of the services a regional airline for Air Canada, the government of Québec has decided to extend an assistance program for regional and remote air services which had been launched in order to make the pandemic COVID-19.

The assistance Program for the maintenance of regional and remote air services critical in times of a health emergency will be extended until October 31. It has a maximum total of$40 Million.

The minister of Transport of Québec, François Bonnardel, has also announced the creation of an advocacy group that has as its mission to identify solutions for the future of services a regional airline. A first meeting is scheduled for next Thursday.

“In the last few days, I have multiplied the meetings with elected officials and community partners. I can tell you that I heard their concerns and that your government is in action to maintain air connectivity in the region. Our priority is to quickly find ways to enable the recovery in the short-term bonds suspended,” the minister said Bonnardel by press release.

The intervention group will be chaired by the minister of Transport. Each party present at the national Assembly will be entitled to one seat each, just like the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) and the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ). Various organizations of the air environment, the business world, as well as several other government departments will be represented.

At a press conference Thursday in Montreal, the minister Bonnardel said that, in the context of the work to find permanent solutions to guarantee the regional air transport in Quebec, Air Canada will be consulted.

“It will be necessary to associate and work with Air Canada, he said. We don’t want to see Air Canada back in the market in 2-3 when the conditions will be better and destroy what one has done,” he said.

He said that cooperation with the largest carrier in the country to facilitate the transits between destinations is also required.

The decision of 30 June by Air Canada to suspend indefinitely many regional routes had provoked a shock wave in the region. This abandonment had been seen by municipal and regional authorities as a blow to their economic vitality. They even had created a crisis cell to find alternatives.

In Quebec, the links Baie-Comeau-Montreal, Baie-Comeau, Mont-Joli, Gaspé–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Gaspé–Quebec city, Sept-Îles–Quebec, Val-d’or–Montreal, Mont-Joli, Montreal and Rouyn-Noranda–Val-d’or are suspended by Air Canada.

There will be no more ports of call in Gaspé, Baie-Comeau and Mont-Joli to Val-d’or.

Air Canada had said that these outages were necessary in order to preserve its cash. The airline had explained that these reductions in service were the result of a “continued weakness of demand in the business market than leisure, as a result of the COVID-19, travel restrictions on federal and provincial and border closures, which reduce the prospects of recovery in the short and medium term”.

The airline was re-iterated that the recovery of the air transport would take at least three years.

In order to preserve its liquidity, the company has also re-assess its network and its timetable, and even can be cut to other routes, to reduce its costs.

Air Canada has lost 1.05 G$ in the first quarter of 2020.

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