March 23rd, 2021 - 1:30pm
Establishing ministerial authority will protect all airports across the country
(OTTAWA) – Today, Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse introduced a private members bill to provide the Transport Minister with the power to remove airports from NAV Canada studies to reduce or eliminate air traffic control services.
“To ensure Windsor’s International Airport (YQG) remains a growing economic anchor to many business sectors in the city, while guaranteeing the highest level of aviation safety for the public, this legislation will provide the necessary authority for the Transport Minister to act. When NAV Canada announced this study the Transport Minister stated he could not act to protect airports because of the law. With this legal change he will be able to save not only the airport in Windsor but across the country,” Masse stated
In November 2020, Nav Canada announced a study considering the removal of seven airport towers across Canada that included YQG, Whitehorse, Regina, Fort McMurray in Alberta, Prince George in B.C., and Sault Ste. Marie, St. Jean, Quebec. This is the necessary first step in the process to eliminate services. At the time, then Transport Minister Garneau was asked to remove the airports from the study, and he stated he did not have the authority according to the law. Since then there has been a public outcry, as well as a consensus from local elected officials at all levels to stop this. Additionally, there has been uniform support from the business community as well as airport users and stakeholders that this must not happen.
In 2019, YQG had its highest ever passenger volume year- serving over 383,000 passengers – a 300 percent increase in volume from 2009. Beyond passenger traffic, the airport has become a logistics air hub for shipments from the local growing greenhouse industry and the advanced manufacturing sector.
“This legislative change will allow the Transport Minister to take practical and decisive action to remove Windsor any other airports from the NAV Canada study. This will allow us all to focus on what matters at the moment, rebuilding and supporting our local economies to recover from the pandemic rather than spending our time defending against NAV Canada’s service reduction and cost cutting initiatives that will ultimately damage a key piece of local infrastructure. Additionally, this rebalances the power between the government and Nav Canada appropriately since all infrastructure, such as airports, need to be governed in the public’s interest rather than a private company,” stated Masse.
Removing air traffic control services at YQG would result in an uncontrolled airport which would eliminate commercial passenger air travel and would create significant safety problems for cargo and private planes due to the complex airspace of having five airports (Windsor International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Coleman A. Young International Airport, Willow Run Airport, Selfridge Air National Guard Base) in the area including public, private, US national guard and US coast guard.