Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Cape Breton Island Airport project?
The Cape Breton Island Airport project is built around a simple idea: Western Cape Breton is a tourism destination that can, and should, compete with any other in the world. We have an opportunity to be a tourism cluster—a hub of growth and potential, with spokes reaching into every corner of Cape Breton.
Tourism in the region has exploded over the past decade, and it’s time to build on that success. By improving access to major attractions like the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park, visitors will spend more time and money in the area, creating jobs and providing tax revenue that supports essential public services like health care and education.
Cape Breton’s tourism industry is growing faster than anywhere else in Atlantic Canada—and development in Western Cape Breton has been a big part of that growth and success. Over the last three years, Western Cape Breton has had the best months on record for room nights sold and 33% growth in the May to October high season.
Locating an airport in Inverness—the gateway to the region—will unlock its potential and help us continue to build for the future. From scenic lookouts to camping, hiking, whale watching, and everything in between, Western Cape Breton has something for everyone – and it’s waiting to be discovered.
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What is a tourism cluster?
A tourism cluster is a group of companies and service providers working together within a close geographic area to deliver an exceptional experience for visitors. With attractions like the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park, stunning scenery, and activities that cannot be found anywhere else in Canada, Western Cape Breton is the ideal location for a tourism cluster.
Both the federal and provincial governments identified the development of tourism clusters as being essential to create growth within the global tourism market.
Who will benefit from this project?
All of us. The proposed airport will improve visitor access to Cape Breton Island, create jobs, and contribute to a growing regional tourism cluster. In order to push Western Cape Breton forward, we need to set ourselves up for success and take control of our collective future. A new airport means more visitors contributing to local businesses and attracting new investors and entrepreneurs to the area. It also means more hotels, restaurants, and opportunities to show the world what we have to offer. If we can’t attract visitors, we won’t be able to attract or retain residents. We need to offer people, young and old, reasons to be part of our community—this is one step towards realizing that goal.
What is the business case for the development of an airport in Inverness?
An airport in Inverness is another step forward in the revitalization of Western Cape Breton. More visitors means more jobs, increased tax revenue to support public services like health care and education, and a sustainable tourism hub to showcase all of the places and people that make Cape Breton a premier destination for visitors from around the world. The proposed airport will improve access, spark growth, and start a cycle of economic activity.
Western Cape Breton is a world class destination that people want to visit but we need to be able to get them here. Read our Business Case.
Why are you asking for public funding for an airport?
Because the airport will benefit the public. This is bigger than any single business or service provider—it is about creating a tourism cluster in Western Cape Breton that will welcome the world to the region and capitalize on all that we have to offer.
While a private airport or airstrip could service golfers, we would miss out on the region’s bigger potential. This is not about golf—it is about tourism, growing our corner of Cape Breton Island, and finally being recognized as a destination, not an afterthought or hidden treasure.
Will this be a seasonal airport? If so, what is the impact on the economy?
Yes, this is expected to be a seasonal airport, operating between May and October. Over the first five years of operation, the airport is expected to create over 600 direct and indirect jobs within tourism and related industries, and provide direct access to visitors who want to experience the world-class tourism offerings of western and northern Cape Breton.
The question we need to be asking is “why not?” There have been conversations taking place about an airport in Western Cape Breton for over a decade and now we have a chance to make it happen. Recently, Cape Breton was named the best island in Canada for the second year in a row by Travel and Leisure magazine. The time to do this is now—not tomorrow, not in a year—now.
Who will own the proposed airport in Inverness?
A not-for-profit entity will be established to own, manage, and operate the proposed Cape Breton Island Airport. Profits generated from airport activities will not pad anyone’s bottom line.
Shouldn’t this money be spent on hiring doctors and fixing roads?
These funds are not budgeted for health care or roads; if the money isn’t spent on this project, it will be spent on a similar project somewhere else. A new airport will create jobs and generate tax revenue that can then be used on critical public services like health, education, and roads. To argue that this money should be spent on doctors or roads is misleading at best, and, at worst, is a deliberate attempt to misinform the public.
Won’t this just make things harder for other parts of Cape Breton?
This isn’t an either-or proposition; it’s about building a brighter future for Cape Breton and capitalizing on an amazing asset. We can’t let this opportunity slip through our fingers. Our Island is worth investing in—opportunities like this one must be seized for the greater good.
Does Cabot Links currently depend on clientele landing at the Allan J. MacEachen Port Hawkesbury Airport?
Approximately 2.5% of annual visitors to Cabot Links and Cliffs arrive via private jet at the Port Hawkesbury Airport. The vast majority of visitors currently travel to Cabot Links and Cliffs from Halifax. Expanding tourism opportunities at world-class destinations is a goal we are passionate about. We will be catering to commercial air service, not taking away from existing private services on the Island.
Has there been consultation with municipal leaders in Inverness or surrounding communities?
Yes, and we plan to discuss this issue with municipal leaders further in the days and weeks to come.
This is not a new idea—conversations related to a new airport for Western Cape Breton have been taking place for over a decade. These conversations have included representatives from all levels of government and all political parties. We’re proud to have the support of a number of former political leaders, as well as supporters in business and community who have championed this project over the years.
Has Cabot borrowed money from the government?
As a growing business and job creator for the region, Cabot has qualified for interest bearing government loans–which have been repaid on, or ahead of, schedule. In fact, Cabot repaid a provincial loan of $8.25 million in full–in advance of the first principal payment coming due.
Is this merely an election tactic to buy votes in Cape Breton?
No. This project has been discussed for over a decade with all levels of government, and all political stripes. This airport proposal isn’t about politics and division—it’s about jobs, potential, and the promise of a brighter future.