Halifax airport to target new flights to Asia, Europe, U.S. with $11M windfall
Officials have until 2024 to spend the money
Staff at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport will have six years to spend $11.1 million in an effort to attract new flights to Asia, Europe and parts of America.
The money is part of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in one-time spending Premier Stephen McNeil announced Thursday, largely the result of an extremely favourable arbitration ruling the province recently received related to offshore royalty revenues.
Bert van der Stege, the airport's chief commercial officer, said in an interview on Friday the money would be used "to invest, jointly with airlines, in making the right choices on future expansion of new routes."
Van der Stege declined to elaborate on how those investments would work, although he did say they focus on marketing support and that every new route requires some form of support in the early stages.
Targeting Asia, Europe, U.S.
While he acknowledged a connection to China is the focus of efforts in Asia — something McNeil has talked about many times — van der Stege would only say target areas in Europe included "mainland Europe and the U.K." and the focus in America would be new destinations along the East Coast and in the central U.S.
In fact, he suggested he was unable to provide anything beyond the most surface-level details, including how long the airport had to spend the $11.1 million.
"We've negotiated an agreement and, as part of that agreement, I've agreed to not disclose some elements," he said, saying it would be up to officials at the province's Business Department to provide any more information.
When asked for more information about the funding and how it would be used, a spokesperson for the department on Friday sent CBC News a reworked version of Thursday's news release.
On Monday, airport spokesperson Nicole Scaplen clarified the airport has until March 31, 2024 to spend the money but could not explain why van der Stege would have thought some details of the agreement couldn't be disclosed.
Scaplen also declined to elaborate on how the money would be spent, citing the sensitive nature of negotiations and not wanting to tip the airport's hand to potential partners.
A spokesperson for the province said in an email that while airport officials "may treat some information as commercially sensitive," nothing in the agreement with the province actually prevents them from speaking about the funding.