Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has provided support to regional airports in Northwestern Ontario and across Canada.

The Kenora Airport like most took advantage of those supports. Announced on March 18, 2022, the airport will receive $509,886 worth of funding from FedNor.

Ryan Reynard, Board Chair of the Kenora Airport Authority says some of the funding went towards replacing some of their older equipment.

“We’ve purchased a new de-icing van,” said Reynard. “We’ve got some new lawn care equipment. We also got a new tug and generator for restarting planes when they come in.”

“This is a lot of equipment that we’ve had for many many years and we’ve been looking at capital replacements in the near future and this just helped us tremendously.”

The funding will also be used to implement new modernization measures to improve operations and safety.

Reynard added they were very pleased to be able to access this funding from FedNor.

“With COVID the airport has slowed down in terms of the number of planes that have come in, the commercial traffic, the charters. That affects our revenue in turn affects our ability to purchase new equipment.”

The Red Lake Airport also saw $341,462 and the Township of Atikokan received $90,000 for its municipal airport from the March 18, 2022,  funding announcement. 

This funding comes from the federal government's Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI), which launched in March of 2021 and supports access to air transportation and regional ecosystems.

The funds were provided through the Government of Canada’s Regional Air Transportation Initiative, which provides support to air transportation and regional ecosystems to adapt to post-COVID-19 requirements.

Ottawa says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on regional air transportation ecosystems, affecting communities and local businesses from coast to coast.

In mid-August of 2021, the airport accessed $439,512 from FedNor, which Reynard said went towards paying some bills.

“Some of that went to paying things like our insurance, some of the interest we pay on our debt. With the downturn in revenue, this was extremely helpful.”

FedNor is the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario and aims to support projects that lead to job creation and economic growth in northern Ontario. It became a standalone agency in August 2021.

Patty Hajdu was named the new Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister of FedNor after a major cabinet shakeup at the end of October, which Melillo supported.