The Canadian Airports Council wants six small airports located on federal land, including the Charlottetown Airport, to have access to federal infrastructure funding such as the Build Canada Fund.

The council addressed the federal finance committee during pre-budget consultations Tuesday.

Twenty-six airports across the country are ineligible for federal funding, most of them larger airports like Pearson International in Toronto.

The council wants an exception made for smaller airports in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Gander, London, Prince George and Saint John. Each handle fewer than 600,000 passengers a year.              

Doug Newson Airport CEO

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, says small airports can struggle to find money for basic capital projects. (Charlottetown Airport Authority)

"Small airports, sometimes, depending on the airport, can struggle to raise the necessary funds to meet just normal safety related capital projects whether it's a new fire truck or runway rehabilitation," said Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority

"We have a lot of the same infrastructure, we just don't have the traffic levels that the large airports have. So it's really encouraging though to see our Canadian Airports Council is pushing this as one of the top two issues during this budget cycle because they realize how important small airports are to feed their hubs and their traffic numbers."

If the rule doesn't change, the airport will have to explore other funding options, such as increased borrowing or higher fees, said Newson. He said that could include an increase in passenger fees, but he sees this as a last resort. 

The airport has accessed special federal funding in the past. The last big pool of money came through the Atlantic Gateway fund — $3.5 million to expand the airport's terminal.

The council also brought forward the need for adequate funding to reduce cecurity screening wait times, but Newson said this is not an issue at the Charlottetown Airport, it's more of a problem at larger airports.