Federal rent-relief less than $200K for Regina airport: CEO

·2 min read

Reviewing comments from Ottawa’s special envoy to the Prairies, the Regina Airport Authority’s CEO is thankful for financial help from the feds during the pandemic, but noted the government’s rent-relief program amounted to less than $200,000 in savings.

James Bogusz said the airport realized those savings in the context of a 52-per cent loss in revenue in 2020 at YQR.

“The federal rent program for us has a lot less impact than it would on a larger airport. The rent we pay is based on how much revenue we generate. There’s a formula the government outlines,” he said.

In an interview with the Leader-Post, he responded to comments from Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr, who last week gave a videoconference to Saskatchewan’s chambers of commerce.

After winning the 2019 federal election but losing every riding in Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Liberals appointed Carr — who won his riding — as its Prairie Envoy to try building inroads here.

Responding to a question about the pandemic’s impact on mid-market airports and how Ottawa helped with its 2021-22 budget, Carr told attendees, “you know there was significant rent relief offered to airports across the country, which was helpful. I know that more is requested, more is being looked at.”

According to Bogusz, the “more significant” financial help has been the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy; “we've used it throughout the pandemic … it didn't necessarily preserve all the jobs we had to cut, but it definitely preserved a few, and it certainly preserved the expense line over here at the airport, a little over $1 million.”

The rent relief would have made a bigger dent in an average, non-pandemic year, he said.

“We pay upwards of $1 million-plus in rent to the federal government.

“We’re proud to pay that; I think it’s important and it's part of our mandate to do that as an airport with a ground lease,” Bogusz said.

The rent-relief package likely was “far more meaningful just in terms of the scale and how much revenue they generate” in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto, he added.

Prior to entering federal politics in 2015, Carr served as a board member with the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

He underscored “the key to restoring other airports to better health is to get more planes in the air, and to get more planes in the air is tied up to our capacity to get out of the pandemic.”

Bogusz agreed, saying he supports that point.

eradford@postmedia.com

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post