With 290 jobs cut at Gander airport, chamber of commerce wants federal help for aviation industry

·3 min read

As a result of recent cuts at Gander International Airport, the town's chamber of commerce says that nearly 300 aviation jobs have been lost, and it's calling on the federal government for help for the industry.

While the number of jobs lost appears shocking, Hannah de Young, first vice-chair of the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce, says it's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Two-hundred-and-ninety jobs represent a total of $25-million in wages in the town of Gander and surrounding communities," de Young said.

Last week, the last of Air Canada's passenger operations at Gander's airport were suspended.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, as many as one in five workers in Gander were employed by airlines or airport service providers prior to the cuts.

Many more jobs are outside of the airport and provide valuable supports to the industry. De Young said the chamber of commerce is still unsure of the full scope of economic impact on those jobs.

"What does that mean for hotel business that might have people staying there overnight, or what does it mean for taxis and the restaurant community?" she said.

The economic impact of the loss of jobs will have detrimental effects on the town's economy, de Young said.

"The chamber of commerce represents more than 300 businesses in the area," said de Young.

"And what we're hearing from our membership is also the impact of what it means to lose connectivity to the mainland."

CBC
CBC

Without having a national airline connecting them to major cities, de Young said, her group is beginning to see an impact on how local businesses operate.

"If they're trying to get workers, whether it's rotational workers for a mine, or whether it's healthcare workers to provide services, they're not able to get here the same way they were before."

De Young said the issue also extends to medical supplies, as well as parts and stock for other businesses.

"It's starting to really impact more than just those direct jobs, which obviously is huge," said de Young. "But if this continues, it's going to continue to have a huge impact across sectors."

Petition launched for federal supports

In response to these challenges, the Chamber of Commerce has launched a petition to the House of Commons, requesting that the federal government ramp-up support for the aviation industry.

The group also wants to see the suspended Air Canada flights restored.

"What it's really directly asking for is for the federal government to provide aid to airlines and airports," said de Young.

"Other big countries across the G7 have already done this; they've already provided aid to survive, and I think we haven't seen that yet from the federal government for the aviation industry."

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many industries across the province, de Young hopes that the restoration of Air Canada flights to Gander will restore lost jobs and connections.

"Right now for Gander, without this direct contact, without this connectivity to the mainland, we're seeing the impact across multiple business sectors."

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