December 1, 2015 6:34 pm

Syrian refugees start arriving Dec. 10: government website

A Syrian refugee child drinks water from a pipe at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015.

Muhammed Muheisen/AP
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The federal government needs planes. Quickly.

A notice posted on a government procurement website says the first major planeload of Syrian refugees is anticipated to arrive in Montreal or Toronto on Dec. 10.

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The notice, posted on the government Buy and Sell website, invites Canadian airlines to submit letters of interest if they “have the capacity, capability and availability to provide air transportation” in a chartered aircraft with at least 200 seats. Aircraft must be able to fly directly from Adana and Gaziantep in Turkey and Amman, in Jordan, to Montreal or Toronto.

Airlines are asked to send their availability for each month up to the end of March 2016. The notice was posted on Tuesday, and airlines have until Friday to respond.

The government will then send a list of interested parties to the International Organization for Migration, which helps to arrange refugee transportation for the Canadian government.

The Canadian government has promised to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of this month and another 15,000 by the end of February.

A second request for letters of interest asks for airlines to indicate their ability to transport refugees from Montreal and Toronto to other Canadian cities. Airlines can either provide chartered aircraft or discounts on commercial flights.

Both notices state that the transportation schedule is yet to be confirmed. In a briefing Nov. 24, the government estimated the total cost of transporting refugees to be between $94 billion and $121 billion over six years.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said Tuesday that he and other federal officials will hold weekly briefings on the resettlement project every Wednesday from now on.

With files from the Canadian Press

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