Canadian carriers applaud extra money for airport security but want privatization off the table

Canadian carriers applaud extra money for airport security but want privatization off the table

MONTREAL — Canada’s airline association says it’s happy with the extra funding for airport security in yesterday’s federal budget but still frustrated that the federal government is keeping Canadian airline passengers “in the dark” about airport privatization.

“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,” said Massimo Bergamini, President and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC).

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.

“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,” said Bergamini.

“However, 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.

Bergamini argues that “air travel is not a luxury. And yet the Government of Canada continues to treat like it is.”

He goes on to say that Canada’s user-pay model “is outdated, non-competitive and it penalizes the very people that air transportation is meant to serve — any increase in the cost of travel resulting from airport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.”

The base price of a domestic air ticket is the lowest it’s been in six years, he says, “but under our outdated system these savings are not passed on to the consumer because of taxes and fees.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.”