Help is on the way for another regional airport. Thursday morning, just 24 hours after announcing help for Sault Ste. Marie, FedNor revealed an investment in Sudbury.
"Sudbury Airport will receive a non-repayable contribution of $3.5 million from FedNor," said Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré, to a round of applause inside the terminal.
Regional airports have been struggling for some time. Air Canada even pulled out of Jack Garland Airport in North Bay for a time.
Serré said they announced the funds as quickly as they could get it approved in the House of Commons.
"These announcements that were announced in Budget 2021 that were made in April, were just approved at the end of June by Parliament," he said. "That's why we're making these investments over the summer, because the budget was approved at the end of June."
The money will be used to pay down last year's debt.
While it won't cover everything, Greater Sudbury Airport CEO Todd Tripp said the money is a start to getting back on the right path.
"Most airports are in the same position we are -- they're looking for the dollars for 2021, as well," Tripp said. "Much appreciated and very thankful for these dollars, but the reality is it's not enough to cover both years."
He said the past 18 months have been a struggle. There are currently 27 employees at the facility.
"I lived through the SARS and the issues they had with 911 and everything else, and I can tell you this is the worst that I've seen the industry, really hard hit are the regional airports in this country," Trip said.
The news comes at a time where some are starting to be more confident and are again considering air travel as a viable means of transportation.
Air Canada has increased the number of daily flights in Sudbury, while Porter Airlines has announced expansion plans.
Porter CEO Michael Deluce said they are planning to return to the region starting Oct. 6. He said people are going to notice some changes, including new planes.
"It has been a very long time, but Porter has been able to focus on its business over the last 16 months and we've made a very substantial investment into our existing fleet of aircraft," Deluce told CTV News.
Porter currently only flies in the northeast to Sudbury, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie, three cities Deluce said are important to the company.
"Those three markets are very important to Porter's network and we're seeing great initial demand for the fall, and so we have every confidence those three markets will recover and we look forward to not only recommending service this fall, but continuing to build frequencies in those markets," said Deluce.
CTV News reached out to WestJet airline, which does not currently operate in northern Ontario, said the company has no plans to expand into the region.
"At this time, we do not have plans to make investments in Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Timmins or North Bay as our current priority is to rebuild our existing network. WestJet regularly reviews opportunities that can connect communities more affordably based on market conditions and the demand environment," said Madison Kruger, a WestJet spokesperson said in an email. "While we are encouraged that airports across the country are receiving federal support, we also need to prioritize addressing impediments to the cost of travel that include pandemic increases to 3rd party rates and fees."
Serré said regional air transportation will be key to the economic development of communities like Sudbury, ensuring it's a green economic recovery.
He's currently talking with the airport to see if there are any other ways the federal government can help.