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Regional airlines reject prospect of government stake in carriers

OTTAWA — Regional airlines are demanding immediate action from Ottawa to prop up the beleaguered sector, but reject the idea of a federal stake in carriers.

John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, says the government has not responded to requests for cash over the past six months, leaving Canada as the only G7 country to hold off on pledging major financial aid for the industry.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc left the door open to a bailout, including the purchase of airline shares by Ottawa, in an interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

LeBlanc said Canadians expect stringent conditions on any federal airline funding that address the issue of travel vouchers, which carriers gave passengers instead of refunds for cancelled flights.

The United States and some European countries have demanded airlines provide reimbursement while offering them billions in financial aid, with strings attached that include 20 per cent government ownership in the case of Lufthansa and emissions reduction commitments from Air France-KLM.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged $41 million in emergency funding for northern airlines to ensure services for remote communities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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