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Air travel costs: WestJet wants government action



“In an effort to make air travel more affordable for Canadians, WestJet is calling on the federal government to reevaluate the fees tacked onto airline tickets. But the question remains – who will ultimately bear the cost?

The WestJet Group’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, is urging the federal government to review and potentially freeze fees for airport maintenance and projects that are added on top of the base ticket price. These additional charges for airports, navigation, and government taxes can significantly increase the cost of air travel for passengers.

The Issues with Fees

Airport Improvement Fees (AIFs) can add around $35 to the cost of a flight, varying by location. In addition, government taxes such as GST, PST, and air navigation fees further contribute to the total ticket price. Hoensbroech highlighted this concern during a conference in Calgary, stressing that many Canadians see these fees as a significant barrier to travel.

‘Somebody’s got to pay’

Aviation expert John Gradek acknowledges the need to reexamine the user-pay model for funding airport infrastructure but warns that finding an alternative is complex. If the burden is not placed on users, taxpayers may end up footing the bill for airport maintenance, expansions, and upgrades.

What are we paying for?

WestJet argues that the half a billion dollars in rent that Canadian airports pay to Transport Canada annually should be redirected to infrastructure improvements or fare reductions. However, the federal transport ministry emphasizes the importance of partnerships in attracting investments to airports while urging airlines to prioritize service quality for passengers.

Billions of dollars in debt

The impact of the pandemic on airports, like the Calgary airport with $3.3 billion in debt, underscores the financial challenges faced by the aviation industry. While WestJet plans to increase seating capacity on some planes to offer more affordable fare options, airport authorities emphasize the need for debt repayment and sustainability.

In conclusion, the debate over airline ticket fees highlights the intricate balance between making air travel accessible and ensuring the financial viability of airports. Ultimately, a collaborative approach between airlines, government, and taxpayers may be necessary to address the complex issues facing the aviation industry.”



Reference

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