Opinion: Debunking some Canadian airfare myths

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By Stephen Jones

The CEO of WestJet has been fast guilty airports — and Canada — for why Canadians can’t have reasonably priced airfare. An opinion contributor on this newspaper cited the CEO in an Oct. 21 column on the topic. They’re fallacious for blaming airports, infrastructure and Canada, and for the assertion that the ultralow-cost airline mannequin (resembling Ryanair in Europe or Spirit Airways within the U.S.) can’t work right here.

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These of us within the airline business have every heard myriad causes: “Canada’s inhabitants is simply too small,” or “Everybody lives between Toronto and Montreal,” or “Airport prices are too excessive,” or “It’s too chilly.”

Info matter.

Canadians already profit from low fares. There are extra seats in the stores than ever earlier than in Canada. The place there may be extra provide, costs fall.

For instance, Canadian home economic system fares have been down 21 per cent in September in comparison with the earlier yr, based on business knowledge. The extra provide comes from true ultralow-cost airways resembling Aptitude and Lynx, and new entrants resembling Porter. Right now, you may usually discover coast-to-coast flights, or to the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, for lower than $99 one-way. In Aptitude’s case, in September 2023 greater than 410,000 passengers did precisely that. Don’t take my phrase for it. Seek for flights between Calgary and Phoenix or Toronto and Florida for this winter to see for your self.

It’s true that Canada’s airport charges — finally paid for by clients — are larger than most nations. Many business observers say this, together with a few of our airport companions. And but, we fly.

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Airport charges account for less than about 15 per cent of historic fare fluctuations. In Aptitude’s case, we select to fly to airports with decrease charges resembling Abbotsford, B.C., and Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario. Not each airline pays the identical charges at each airport, and people financial savings are handed on to clients within the type of — you guessed it — decrease fares. Additional proof? Solar Nation, a U.S. low-cost service, introduced plans to fly from Minneapolis to Toronto and Montreal. We welcome them, and so will Canadians.

Others blame Canada. There’s the parable that Canadians can’t have low fares as a result of our stunning nation is simply too giant, with the inhabitants unfold thinly and the distances too lengthy. (I’ve even heard some say it’s too chilly to function flights profitably and on time.)

Think about that Australia’s inhabitants is 26 million — unfold throughout an enormous expanse — and the place 90 per cent of residents dwell inside 100 kilometres of the coast. Chile’s inhabitants is nineteen million, unfold throughout an extended, skinny and scenic nation. In every case, there are thriving ultralow-cost airways resembling JetStar, Rex and Bonza in Australia, and Sky and JetSmart in Chile — every of which has sizable fleets. Comparable examples abound.

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Certainly, Aptitude Airways flies about the identical distance as Wizz, a number one European ultralow-cost airline. It’s not the space flown that issues that a lot, it’s a query of whether or not you’ve fuel-efficient plane and a motivated staff, coupled with nice locations and fares that get folks off the sofa.

So, why hasn’t it labored earlier than in Canada?

Canada didn’t have a real, impartial ultralow-cost airline within the mould I’ve described in Europe and the U.S. (or Australia and Chile). Swoop was an airline inside WestJet, whose sole objective was to harm competitors. Air Canada Rouge served an identical objective. However, that’s modified now.

Canadians can have good issues, too, regardless of what others say or who they blame. And a kind of issues is reasonably priced airfare.

Stephen Jones is the CEO of Alberta-based Aptitude Airways.

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