Opinion: Why Canadians can’t have ultra-low-cost air journey

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Ultralow-cost air journey won’t ever flourish in Canada, at the least not in the best way it does in Europe or america. The explanation may shock you.

It’s not attributable to inflation or gas costs. It’s not attributable to pilot salaries, which have risen sharply in recent times. Moderately, it has to do with one thing so mundane it’s nearly invisible: infrastructure. It’s all of the programs, safety and governing our bodies that quietly assist the nation’s aviation trade, which, because it seems, are uniquely and prohibitively costly in Canada.

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In an article final month, WestJet Group CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech explains this phenomenon intimately. “Canada is without doubt one of the most costly locations to function an airline. Charges, taxes and costs for airports, air visitors management, safety and different shared companies are among the many highest of any nation.

“To purchase a return journey from Calgary to Toronto on considered one of our Boeing 737-800s, for example, your ticket is burdened with $70 in AIF, $28 in touchdown and terminal charges, $30 in provincial GST/HST, $22 in Nav Canada payment and $14 safety payment (this doesn’t even account for different infrastructure charges comparable to loading, apron utilization, de-icing, slot administration and extra).”

That’s $160 in infrastructure-related charges alone, double what it will price to fly an equal route within the U.S, in keeping with von Hoensbroech.

That is an insane price to levy on travellers flying via Toronto’s Pearson Airport, which, in keeping with analytics agency J.D. Energy, was the second lousiest mega airport in North America by buyer satisfaction final yr.

These prices ought to be lowered by Canadian aviation authorities so that they’re in keeping with American or European requirements. The consequence, in the long term, will probably be a extra aggressive aviation trade, extra tourism and, after all, decrease fares.

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The obvious place to begin for cost-cutting is airport enchancment charges, the identify of which ought to be sufficient to anger Canadians since our airports don’t appear to be enhancing. At 19 Canadian airports, these charges are between 2.5 and seven.5 occasions the U.S. nationwide common of $6 per passenger.

“Critics say the issue is that Canadian airports aren’t accountable to anybody once they set charges. The airports are simply charging what they wish to cost,” mentioned John Gradek, who teaches aviation management at McGill College.

The service Canadians obtain in return for his or her sky-high airport charges is unacceptable.

Final summer time, for instance, Pearson made headlines when it topped the checklist of world airports by variety of flights delayed. Bear in mind the chaos? Arriving passengers have been trapped on planes as a result of the arrivals corridor was full, departing passengers missed flights attributable to outrageous safety occasions. All this in a yr when the Larger Toronto Transport Authority reported money flows of $235.4 million, and govt and board compensation totalled $10 million.

What makes this downside distinctive is that it issues infrastructure, which is, effectively, boring. It’s not the type of concern that riles up protesters. But its implications are immense. It partly determines who can afford to fly in addition to the kinds of service airways can profitably supply.

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Von Hoensbroech concludes his article by explaining his imaginative and prescient for integrating Swoop — as soon as destined to turn into Canada’s Ryanair — into WestJet. The method is remarkably just like that of legacy carriers comparable to Air Canada — tiered service, with premium and economic system choices on each flight.

Canada, then, is shifting away from the ultralow-cost mannequin that works so effectively in Europe and the U.S. It’s a travesty brought on by a impossible, even invisible actor — the evils of infrastructure.

Jonah Prousky is a administration guide and freelance author based mostly in London, U.Ok. His work has appeared within the CBC, Toronto Star and Calgary Herald.

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