Canadian, U.S. Airports Welcome Promise of a North American Approach to Trusted Travellers

Streamlined approach to border processing can improve business travel and trade between Canada, U.S., and Mexico

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) today welcomed the joint commitment of Canada, the United States, and Mexico to develop a North America-wide trusted traveler program - building on the successes of the joint Canada-U.S. Nexus program and other trusted traveler programs in North America and around the world.

Trusted traveler programs provide pre-registered and qualified passengers with an improved border experience while enhancing security. According to the joint statement, the North American program will be established in 2014 and start with mutual recognition of the three countries' NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI and Viajero Confiable programs.

"North America's airports commend President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and President Peña Nieto for this landmark agreement," said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.  "A North American trusted traveler program is an important next step in strengthening the commitment to free trade and cultural exchange among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and streamlining entry for participating passengers will help position air travel as a competitive, attractive option for tourists in all three countries."

"North America's airports have long supported the use of technology and innovative programs to improve both security and the passenger experience," said Canadian Airports Council President Daniel-Robert Gooch. "A North America-wide trusted traveler program can dramatically improve the flow of frequent travelers between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico by focusing border resources where they can be most effective."

Mexico is the top overseas destination for Canadians travelling abroad while Mexicans are among the top 10 visitors to Canada - a third of them travelling on business.  However, the 2009 introduction of a visa requirement for Mexicans led to an immediate 55% decrease in overnight visits. While tourism indicators suggest that travel to Canada from Mexico is on its way back to pre-visa levels, visas are understood to stifle travel demand by as much as 30% - representing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tourism spending for Canada.

"Canada's airports understand and appreciate the role that the visas have in screening who can come to Canada," said Mr. Gooch.  "While a North America-wide trusted traveler program can be a boon for boosting some segments of travel, such as business travel, the ultimate boost for Canadian tourism will come when all legitimate visitors are able to come here with fewer hassles."

PriceWaterhouseCoopers projects that Mexico is likely to be among the world's top 10 economies by 2030. Trade between Canada and Mexico has grown at an average rate of 11.5% since 1993.

The announcement came during the North American Leaders' Summit in Toluca, Mexico, between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, United States President Barack Obama, and Enrique Peña Nieto, the president of Mexico.

About ACI-NA

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) represents local, regional and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. ACI-NA member airports enplane more than 95 percent of the domestic and virtually all the international airline passenger and cargo traffic in North America. Approximately 380 aviation-related businesses are also members of ACI-NA, providing goods and services to airports. ACI-NA is one of the five worldwide regions of Airports Council International.

About the Canadian Airports Council

The Canadian Airports Council (CAC), a division of Airports Council International-North America, is the voice for Canada's airports community.  Its 46 members represent more than 120 airports, including all of the privately operated National Airports System (NAS) airports and many municipal airports across Canada. Together, CAC members handle virtually all of the nation's air cargo and international passenger traffic, and 95% of domestic passenger traffic. In 2012, Canada's air transportation industry had a $34.9 billion economic footprint, supported 405,000 jobs, and federal taxes of more than $7 billion.

SOURCE Canadian Airports Council

For further information:

Caroline O'Reilly
Senior Manager, Communications and Marketing
Airports Council International - North America
(202) 861-8080
coreilly@aci-na.org

Elias Rassi
Manager of Communications and Public Affairs
Canadian Airports Council
(613) 560-9302 ext 15
elias.rassi@cacairports.ca