Air access for British Columbians in rural and remote regions has always been a challenge. Airlines struggle to economically provide routes and access to rural and remote areas while maintaining a positive balance sheet. Airlines have often written off the losses incurred in providing service to rural areas in order to feed passengers into other domestic and international hubs or the increased costs have been born by primarily the business traveler. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic illuminated this issue as many airlines had to curtail services and some rural areas lost their only air service.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted business, communities and economic growth across the country and none more so than the travel and tourism industry. Local communities have done what they can to relieve the burden on local aviation operators; in some cases suspending landing fees and waiving lease fees to provide short term assistance to carriers.

While restrictions were/are necessary to curb the spread of the virus it obviously places a significant burden on business and airlines. Regional carriers need help to survive this crisis and continue providing service to remote communities during the pandemic and as we move forward. The pandemic has brought to light the transportation inequities faced in rural communities.

The loss of scheduled air service to a rural/remote community is more than just the inconvenience of not having leisure travel options, it is the loss of medical services including visits to specialists and specialized care such as surgeries, chemotherapy, and diagnostic testing; it is the inability to get time sensitive cargo such as laboratory testing out; it is the loss of essential business travel such as our dentists who fly in to serve the community or the business traveller looking to promote or expand.

Air service to rural and remote communities across Canada, that only have one scheduled air service option must be considered an essential service and we are calling on the government to put programs in place to support our communities and work with us to ensure regional airlines remain viable. Regional Airlines are private business and cannot maintain operating at a loss in order to service remote areas.

Australia, with a service area incorporating rural and remote regions has put into place a Regional Aviation Access Programme1 (RAAP). This program provides “assistance to the owners of regional airports across Australia to undertake essential works, promoting aviation safety and access for communities through the Regional Airports Program.” The RAAP guidelines2 state “The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that Australian’s regional and remote communities have

reasonable access to air services to major cities and other key centres.” Funds have been tied to maintain/providing regional air connectivity over a period of time and the carrier has ensured community fares with a set dollar figure per passenger calculated to support minimum operating costs. The efforts in Australia have poised their regional airlines to recovering quicker than international counterparts and providing increased revenue to both airline and country.

In order to improve and stabilize regional airlines and support passengers using regional airports; to improve delivery of essential goods and services, such as food supplies; health care and passenger air services and to improve the connectivity of rural regions to domestic and global market opportunities:


That the Provincial Government:

  1. Treat air service to remote & rural communities as an integrated public and private service;
  2. Review the Australian and other models of regional air service to remote communities and work with federal counterparts to build a BC model that works;
  3. Engage with regional airlines and stakeholders including business and indigenous & non- indigenous communities to determine guidelines, minimum capacity requirements, and minimum costs post Covid-19 for regional airlines operation in remote and rural communities; and
  4. Support regional airlines through grants or subsidies, where determined necessary.