GNWT will restart collection of airport fees in the new year

Interior shot of the Yellowknife Airport.(Photo supplied by Yellowknife Airport Twitter.)
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The GNWT will restart collecting airport fees at all airports across the territory on January 1, 2021.

The various fee waiving measures cost the territory $6.3 million in revenue.

The fees were waived in three waves.

The first round of stimulus measures included the waiving of “airport landing fees” from March 20 to June 30, 2020. 

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The second round included waiving leases, licenses and concession fees for all businesses at all airports from April 1 to June 30, 2020.  Both measures were extended from July 1 to December 31, 2020.

In a statement from the Department on Infrastructure, restarting the collection of fees will ensure airports “have the funds to safely operate.”

“The revenue generated through airport fees enables essential investments in airport infrastructure, improvement projects and maintenance activities,” the statement read. “Airport maintenance and improvements are especially important in the NWT, where residents and industry depend on safe, secure, accessible and reliable air travel.”

Brian Harrold, one of the owners of Northwestern Air, said having the fees waived have enabled airlines to minimize the losses suffered during COVID-19.

“For the private companies to come up with that additional funds is going to be a bit of a stretch,” said Harrold. “Especially when — if it’s in January — I mean, that’s historically a low travel time anyways, especially now without any of the Christmas travel. It’s gonna sting.”

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Harrold said most of the people travelling now are essential workers or people travelling for medical appointments. He added that the number of people flying “barely pays the gas, let alone anything else.”

“In April, we had flights — we’ve had this on and off for quite a while — to Edmonton where we took three people down, two of them were doctors that were doing rotations, and one of them was a person going down for chemotherapy,” said Harrold.

Harrold said his airline may face going into long-term debt and is looking at reducing the frequency of trips they make, to cope with the impacts of reduced ridership.

The GNWT had waived a number of transport fees with the aim of reducing the financial impact on businesses caused by COVID-19.

The GNWT started collecting fees for crossings at the Deh Cho Bridge on October 31, after waiving the fees for more than six months.

The loss in fees cost the territory more than a million dollars in revenue, according to the GNWT’s estimates. Those figures were less than a third of what the revenue had been in 2019 for the same period.

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