With all the talk about fundamentally changing the world in the wake of the pandemic, I would settle for getting back to normalcy.
Air travel is a good example. As I have written before we have made substantial progress in that area in the past 25 years across Atlantic Canada. Let’s not let a 16 month or so pandemic kill years of progress.
I realize there are two parts: 1) health of the airports and the transportation infrastructure and 2) health of the airlines and they are both very important.
Let’s not get distracted by the announcement this week from Air Canada. The company is responding to a steep drop off in demand. Are they doing the right thing? Who knows. I’m not the defender of the airline industry in Canada. It’s one of the most mercenary industries there is – and as long as there is competition – that can be good – but if we get to a point post-pandemic where only one airline is operating services to this region or to most of its airports – we risk going back in time.
We need to get back to Air Canada, WestJet, Porter nipping around and other low cost carriers lurking in the back – waiting to strike if the main provider decides to jack prices or cut service.
As for this idea that has been rebooted about a big airport in Sussex – I have said that I am not in theory opposed to it but I think in practice there will be way too much push back relative to the potential benefit. Further, if it means closing one, two or more airports while things are getting sorted out – we could be looking at years when large areas of the province will end 2+ hours’ drive from an airport.
Make no mistake folks, the next 2-3 years are huge for this province. We need to get our inward population flow back on track. We need a large scale increase in our international student population. We have more potential than ever to attract the mobile professional workforce. Our exporting companies will need to rebuild fraying relationships with clients through face-to-face interaction. Our residents are going to want to get out there and travel – Bahamas, Florida, Vancouver – etc. I believe there will be pent up demand.
All of this requires a good level of air transportation services. If we diddle around for a few years while everything gets sorted out we will lose momentum.
I’d put this issue higher on the government agenda.
Being asleep at the wheel is how we get steamrolled by other jurisdictions.