AIR TRAVEL IS NOT A LUXURY The National Airlines Council comments On Federal Budget
Posted on 03/23/2017
Massimo Bergamini, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) issued a statement following the tabling of the federal budget yesterday.
"While the budget does bring the promise of some relief for air travellers by investing a larger chunk of passenger-generated revenue back into security screening, it is silent on the government's plans for Canada's airports.
“And while it speaks of the importance of rail and water, so too is it silent on the role and importance of airlines in connecting families, communities and as bridges to economic opportunities.”
The statement said, “The additional funding for Canada's air transport security authority should result in shorter processing times and better security. This is something that our organization has been advocating for and that we applaud.”
The council however was not as pleased on the matter of airport privatization.
“After weeks of speculation around the government's intentions on airport privatization, and after recent leaks suggest privatization is still very much in play, Canadians remain in the dark. Our organization has opposed for-profit-privatization of Canada's airports, not on ideological grounds, but because it would result in higher fees for travellers and airlines.
“As the Australian consumer protection agency reported two weeks ago, privatization in that country has resulted in massive increases in costs for airlines and travellers alike. Much like in Australia, in a country as vast and sparsely populated as our own, whether it is to seek out job opportunities or connect with loved ones, for many, air travel is the only option.
“Air travel is not a luxury. And yet the Government of Canada continues to treat like it is.”
“Canada's user-pay model is outdated, non-competitive and it penalizes the very people that air transportation is meant to serve - any increase in the cost of travel resulting from airport privatization would amount to a tax on the middle class.
“Our organization and our members are fully aligned with Transport Minister Garneau's goal of a passenger air transportation system that provides high quality service at lower cost. The base price of a domestic air ticket is the lowest it's been in six years, but under our outdated system these saving are not passed on to the consumer because of taxes and fees.”
The government's decision to keep privatization on the table distracts from the real issues and delays needed action to fix Canada's non-competitive air transport cost structure and policy framework says the statement.
“What is needed now is not the continued pursuit of a privatization plan with no demonstrable benefits for air travellers or the communities our airlines serve, but rather its definitive, unambiguous rejection and a commitment to fixing a system in need of urgent repair."
The National Airlines Council of Canada is the trade association representing Canada's largest national and international passenger air carriers: Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet. Collectively, member airlines carry over 60 million passengers annually, directly employ 46,000 people and create over 260,000 jobs.