The Manitoba government is providing $4.8 million to Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) to improve direct flight connectivity from Winnipeg to major international markets, which will help businesses retain and attract investment and skilled workers as Manitoba’s economy emerges into a new era of growth, Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“Our government is working closely and collaboratively with our economic development partners to identify areas of growth and opportunity and provide strategic investments to help Manitoba businesses thrive and take their operations to the next level,” said Cullen. “WAA is a crucial partner to Manitoba’s economy, connecting Manitobans to the world. More convenient and direct flight options will benefit Manitoba businesses’ ability to attract talent and investment and contribute to our economy.”

The province’s $4.8-million investment will support WAA’s efforts to secure direct flight service to strategic business and popular leisure destinations. WAA is working with airlines to establish and re-establish direct, multiple-weekly frequency flights between the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport and other major cities, the minister noted.

“WAA exists to serve our community and central to that is growing our province’s connectivity to meet the needs of everyone who lives and works here,” said Nick Hays, president and CEO, WAA.  “This funding will help us compete in attracting new direct routes or airlines at a time when our industry continues to recover from the pandemic. In turn, Manitobans will benefit from better access while our province’s economy will benefit from more trade, tourism and business.”

The $4.8-million investment is part of the province’s $50-million Pandemic Long-Term Recovery Fund, administered by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, to provide businesses and industries with the support they need to invest in their employees, expand and diversify their operations, and remain competitive in the global market, noted Cullen .

“No sector has been as negatively impacted by the pandemic as the tourism industry. This investment will be key to rebuilding a critical sector that creates thousands of jobs and returns millions of dollars to the Manitoba economy,” said Chuck Davidson, president and CEO, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. “In addition, the opportunity to create direct linkages to key destinations will be beneficial to supporting other emerging and growing sectors in Manitoba.”

This announcement supports the government’s ongoing efforts to attract investment, foster job creation, and improve education and training opportunities that will all lead to stronger economic growth, greater trade and innovation. These are the drivers that power Manitoba’s economy, said Cullen.

Recent economic indicators from Statistics Canada show Manitoba is leading the nation in economic recovery, the minister noted, adding Manitoba’s job growth initiatives have been crucial to getting Manitobans back to work.