Finance Minister Says Ottawa Working On Aid Package For Airlines

The federal government in Ottawa is working on a financial aid package for Canada’s beleaguered airline industry.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Government of Canada is aware of the challenges facing airlines and the travel sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that government officials are working on an aid package for the sector.

Freeland said she has spoken to the heads of Canada’s major airlines and unions but did not give details. Carriers and travel industry executives have repeatedly called on Ottawa for assistance as passenger numbers slump while borders around the world are closed.

Airlines have already received more than $1 billion from a wage subsidy program that Ottawa introduced to help businesses deal with the pandemic. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc has said publicly that Ottawa might take a stake in major airlines such as Air Canada (TSX:AC) and WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA). Both carriers have suspended dozens of routes in recent weeks.

Earlier this month major labour unions said the aviation sector would suffer permanent damage unless Ottawa provided a $7 billion, 10-year low-interest loan to offset the effects of the global pandemic.