The federal government handed out nearly $19 million in funding on Tuesday to 11 airports throughout B.C., and two airlines.
Among the 13 recipients was Kelowna International Airport, which received $3.261 million.
City officials say the money will go towards essential routine maintenance and facility operations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two airlines that also received federal funding were Pacific Coastal Airlines ($5.098 million) and Central Mountain Air Ltd. ($5 million). Both services routes across B.C.
Of the airports that received federal support, Abbotsford had the highest funding at $3.320 million, slightly more than Kelowna’s total.
Making the federal-funding announcement was Harjit Sajjan, federal minister of international development.
“Air transportation is essential to community well-being, regional economic development, and the prosperity of all Canadians,” said Sajjan.
“Today’s announcement will not only enhance airport safety and support our essential services; it will also create jobs that British Columbians can rely on and bolster regional growth as we recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
Kelowna officials say the funding will go a long way in helping the region recover from the pandemic.
“It’s essential that different levels of government partner to stimulate the economy as we recover from COVID-19,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.
“The Kelowna International Airport plays a critical role in supporting economic development in Kelowna and the region.”
According to Basran, the airport lost around $75 million during the last two years.
“(The funding is) tremendously important,” said Basran. “As you know, the pandemic has hit particularly airports very hard, given the restrictions on travel.
“So when we have an opportunity like this to cover operational costs as well as regional air development, it’s significant.”
Meanwhile, Kelowna airport director Sam Samaddar called the funding a critical investment.
“Any kind of help based on the amount of money and lost revenue we have had over the last while, this is critical in supporting that,” said Samaddar.
Looking ahead, Samaddar was optimistic, stating that with travel restrictions being partially lifted, “those are huge in terms of consumer confidence.”
The funding was made under the Regional Air Transportation Initiative, which was launched in March 2021 and supports air transportation and regional systems.