Senate transport committee: Final report recommends smart policy fixes
OTTAWA, June 6, 2012 — If acted upon, the recommendations in the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications on Canada's aviation sector will increase passengers and decrease the cost of air travel in our country says the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).
"The recommendations in this report provide smart policy fixes that would allow our travel and tourism sector to thrive, providing economic growth and creating jobs across the country," said David Goldstein, president and CEO of TIAC. "We fully support the committee's overarching recommendation for a cohesive national air strategy, and believe that a focused approach to the aviation sector will help to increase air travel in Canada."
The report - titled "The Future of Canadian Air Travel: Toll Booth or Spark Plug?" - is the culmination of two years of work by the Standing Committee, in which they heard from a full cross-section of aviation and tourism players. The report states that "the high cost of flying in Canada is limiting potential economic growth." The Committee makes six specific recommendations on how the government can help the industry compete. This includes lessening the burden caused by excessive taxes and fees such as phasing out airport rents.
TIAC appeared twice before the Standing Committee, and helped to provide context in terms of how the current state of Canada's aviation sector is having a negative affect on our ability to compete in a competitive world tourism marketplace. The committee report and recommendations align with the Government's commitment to facilitate ease of access and movement for travelers which was one of the top priorities named in the Federal Tourism Strategy (released October 2011).
"We appreciate the thorough work done by the Senate Transport Committee and thank the senators in this study and the common-sense solutions they have presented," said David Goldstein. "We look forward to continuing to work with the government on this vital issue and would be pleased to support the establishment of a National Air Travel Strategy."
The six recommendations made by the Committee are:
- The committee recommends that Transport Canada, together with the Department of Finance, bring all relevant stakeholders to the table to establish a National Air Travel Strategy to increase and facilitate air travel in Canada.
- The committee recommends that Transport Canada revise and update the National Airports System. The updated system should:
- Support the goal of increasing air traffic in Canada;
- Focus on the needs of the industry and consumers, both domestic and international; and
- Treat airports equally, while taking into consideration their unique requirements.
- The committee recommends that Transport Canada establish and implement a plan to phaseout ground rents completely over time for airports that are part of the National Airport System.
- The committee recommends that, concurrent with the long-term plan of ending airport ground rents, Transport Canada transfer federally owned airports in the National Airports System to the airport authorities that operate them.
- The committee recommends that the airport authorities of each of the large volume airports lead an initiative to facilitate flight connections at the large volume airports. Such systems should ensure that the luggage of a transiting traveller is forwarded directly to the traveller's ultimate destination without the traveller's intervention. Such systems should also require the traveller to pass through security screening and customs and immigration only once during their journey.
- The committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration Canada meet with the directors of major Canadian airports and work to establish a full transit visa program for international travellers to connect through Canadian airports.