Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 1:39 am

MONTREAL (CP) — Air Canada claims that in 2002, the airline and its passengers will pay more than $1 billion in various airport charges, fees and taxes to the federal government.

In a presentation Thursday to the House of Commons finance committee, the airline's executive vice-president, Calin Rovinescu, said the government charges undermine the carrier's efforts to cut costs and become more efficient.

Rovinescu said the Montreal-based company (TSX: AC) does not quarrel with the need for fees to finance airport improvements and tougher air security, but he said the industry is being asked to bear too much of the financial load.

He said the industry does not even need more money, just a different distribution.

"There is no significant lack of money in the system," Rovinescu told the committee, collecting input for the 2003-2004 federal budget expected in February or early March.

"It's just that currently, it's government itself, as well as its various mandated monopolies, such as airports, which are reaping the windfalls, while airlines and their passengers are being asked to bear the disproportionate share of the burden."

From fuel excise taxes, air navigation fees, airport fees and policing to employee parking fees, "It has gotten so bad that it seems that air travel is subject to more `sin taxes' than tobacco or alcohol," complained Rovinescu.

He recalled that some Air Canada Tango promotional fares recently offered at $1 also included $95 in taxes. "That gives you some idea of how out of control this situation has become," the executive said.

"It goes without saying that this situation is rapidly becoming a deterrent to air travel — affecting large and small communities alike, driving up the cost of air services, forcing passengers into cars and other modes of transportation and effectively stunting the growth of the airline industry in this country."

Some airlines, including WestJet of Calgary, have curtailed some short-haul routes because traffic has dropped off as travellers drive instead of taking short flights made far more expensive and troublesome by security charges, airport delays and other fees.

Among his recommendations to the committee, Rovinescu said that air security costs should be borne out of general government tax revenues, as is the cost of securing land border and sea port entry points.

He also recommended a governance mechanism in the administration of airports to allow airlines to have a say in how much they're charged and how the money is spent.

"We — and our customers — have practically no say on the amounts we're charged or on how those funds are spent, even though we have no choice but to use their facilities."


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RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 2:52 am

I couldn't agree more with Air Canada. I am surprised however that the airlines don't get together on this matter and go to the government as a team. The fees are ridiculous, and it's the single most pathetic element in our industry up here in Canada. However I would argue that it's airlines like Westjet and Jetsgo which will gain more from the fees being lowered.

In the auto industry for example, car companies lobby together as a team against new government proposals especially with respect to emissions regulations, and stuff like that. I'm sure there are plenty of examples in other industries, so I'm surprised we don't see that here in Canada with the airlines. Without that, the government will likely not do anything about it.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster

RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:29 am

I quite agree. I also find it rather naive of the Canadian carriers to assume that Ottawa will reduce or restructure these costs on their own, without the
combined intervention of AC, TS, SV, WJ, etc., together as a coalition, per se.

I for one am both heartedly angry and frustrated at what I see, or rather,
with what I do not see at Canadian airports re new security measures. On a recent AC flight to LHR, I was astounded (yet hardly surprised, yes, this is an oxymoron!) at the benign screening process at T1-Int'l departures. The CAD$7 - $8.00 per hour "security staff", and I use that term rather loosely, once again displayed their overall gross incompetence, as I noticed many bags going through scanners were not even being observed, including my own. I even had disposable razors in my carry-on (Naughty? Yes, it was, but I am growing rather weary of purchasing new razors at each destination, only to discard the many unused ones before my return trip home), which was not searched, nor was this image picked up by staff on x-ray. Indeed, the "x-ray" staff were too busy yawning and daydreaming. Nice, very nice.

Speaking of which, I often wonder that when I see my own carry-on bag contents on the x-ray screen, I myself cannot even begin to identify what is what, and it astounds me that these minumum wage "security" staff could
even begin to identify objects. It is apparent the training of these individuals is virtually non-existent. And there goes another CAD$24.00 out of my pocket for "new and improved Canadian airport security measures". What
a goddamned joke (and not even a remotely funny one at that).

I have seen this incompetence time and time again post Sept 11 at YYZ, YVR, YUL, and YYC. It is absolutely disgusting, and it leaves me experiencing a huge amount of apprehension, and anger directed at Ottawa, who had better damn well justify their CAD$24.00 security charge. It is appalling. I would not mind paying this fee IF I actually saw dramatic improvements and revisions to the current security procedures (if you wish to call them that),
but such is not the case, nor do I feel it will improve in the near or far future.

But, I'm sure Chretien is too busy playing golf in Florida to even ponder the fact of a worst-case scenario at a Canadian Airport. After all, this IS
Canada. "It couldn't happen here. Oh, no indeed".


RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:31 am

The airlines do hire lobbyists, who now prefer to be referred to as nicer-sounding 'government relations consultants'. Air Canada even hired former Chrétien advisor Peter Donolo to run its government relations department for a while.

Maybe they need to follow it up with an intense advertising campaign to crank up the political pressure.

RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:38 am

Maybe what needs to be done is for these bloody apethetic bastards to get off their proverbial lazy Canadian asses and exercise some pro-active behaviour. This country is notorious for its talk, and no walk. The time for
discussions has long past. These overpaid insepid gin and martini drinkers of the Sussex Drive set need to initiate an actual revised national security plan. And maybe, just maybe, the gang at Canadian Immigration will get a bloody wake-up call as well.

"Welcome to Canada! Come on in! Oh, and don't bother showing any
passports, visas, or any other documentation for that matter. We don't
look! As a matter of fact, once you're IN, we don't even track you and
have no clue as to where you are, or what you're up to!"

A message from the Government of Canada.

RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:42 am

Re: The security staff at YYZ

I went through security on the T1/T2 linkway on Sept. 18 and again on Oct. 2. It seemed like they were in a hurry to get people through as quick as possible, and were surly with anyone not moving quickly enough.

I'd feel I were getting my money's worth if they were more like the Eurostar security staff in Paris -- thorough, even picky, but professional.

RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:56 am

European airports, for the most part, have long been more competent/adept at implementing strict security procedures. Period. I have always felt far more safe and secure at, FRA, for example, than YYZ.

McDouglad, I agree with your observation of security measures at Pearson.
In July, I flew to SFO with AC, and saw this for myself. What disturbed me more was the fact the the Air Canada ground staff themselves were bullying the security staff to "get them through as fast as you can, we're backlogged as hell here!". I actually heard these words from an AC pax services supervisor. Well, I suppose AC wants their on-time departures, and what carrier does not, but, at what cost to the passenger?
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RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 8:47 am

airport fees have gone thru the roof .....
just to give you an idea by how much ....
well it used to cost us (jazz) approx 80 cad for a dh-8 landing fee at ???
that has now gone to 1500 cad since the local airport authority took over.
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:12 pm

RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Tue Nov 19, 2002 10:43 am

Well, I fly back and forth to Canada a great deal. I was reading somewhere that Canada, Bermuda and (formerly) the U.S. were the only three countries in the world where private enterprise took care of airport security. The U.S. now has the TSA, but on my last trip to Canada (a few weeks ago), I noticed that the same private screeners were still in place.

In terms of the quality of screening, I've noticed inconsistency at best up there. Some screeners thoroughly check you out while others do as what was described above (rush people in), or just don’t seem to care. Without trying to seem prejudiced, it does seem that certain “people” are more prone to the latter type of behavior than others.

I’ve also noticed that security seems to vary from airport to airport within Canada. I thought YEG’s screeners were pretty thorough and did a god job, compared to those at YYZ, who seemed rushed and nonchalant. Could be that YYZ has more passengers to deal with, but I would think they should be more careful because of the higher volume of traffic they receive. I also read a disturbing article stating that YYZ put checked luggage through any sort of screening procedure. That’s pretty scary, if you ask me, especially at Canada’s busiest airport. The government’s complacent attitude should stop, especially when people’s security is at stake.
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RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Wed Nov 20, 2002 12:21 am

Every time I've flown, my laptop computer has been checked. The security is appalling, and that $24 is going to waste. I recently priced out a trip to YHZ from YYZ and there was over $100 in taxes. They even charge GST on the airport improvement fees. It's ridiculous how much it costs to fly commercially in Canada.

RE: Air Canada Pleads For Lower Airport Charges

Wed Nov 20, 2002 12:48 am

Myself and others in the travel industry strongly feel this issue of Canadian
airfare/airport taxes and fees is going to reach a boiling point sooner than
people realize. We have heard there is already "talk" of the implementation of an additional tax for Canadian purchased tickets, the target date being January, 2003. Ottawa is lending more than a helping hand in contributing to decreased pax loads across the board. For once, I agree with Robert Milton on this.

Canadian carriers and the travel industry as a whole MUST band together
and fight this all the way. As I stated above, the CAD$24.00 security tax itself is absolute rubbish, as I and many others have noticed in many cases not one degree of improvement overall at many Canadian airports. In fact, it would appear on more than one occasion the level of security has diminished to the point where I and others are feeling varying degrees of apprehension when checking in for flights. The industry WOULD support this fee, if in fact dramatic improvements were implemented by Ottawa, as pax and crew safety is paramount.

This perhaps may be a horrid thing to say, but my gut tells me it is going to take a horrific security breach and incident for Ottawa to awaken from their slumber. I only hope it doesn't come to that.

How do you spell SECURITY at Canadian Airports (overall): A T R O C I O U S

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