ATAC welcomes new Canada-US Open Skies agreement



    OTTAWA, March 12 /CNW Telbec/ - The Air Transport Association of Canada
today welcomed the signing of the expanded Open Skies agreement between Canada
and the United States but called upon the Government of Canada to maximize the
opportunities for Canada by improving the competitiveness of Canadian air
carriers.
    "Canadians can take great pride in the fact that their air carriers are
world-wide industry leaders in delivering innovative fare and service options
for travelers", said ATAC President and CEO, Sam Barone. "From the beginning
of Canada's Open Skies relationship with US in 1995, Canadian carriers have
led the way in opening up new services between our two countries", continued
Barone. "Today's agreement has the potential of significantly expanding the
global reach of Canada and its air carriers if the government of Canada
commits itself to addressing some of the serious tax disadvantages we face,
compared to American carriers", he concluded.
    ATAC has long supported the principle of open markets and fair
competition but stresses the need to address the international cost
competitiveness of our air travel industry. Of particular urgency, ATAC
stresses the need to address three areas of taxation which significantly
undermine the competitiveness of Canadian carriers in relation to their US
counterparts:

    
        1. Airport rents are a simple but brutal tax on aviation, with over
           $2 billion collected since their inception in 1994, for use of
           facilities which were valued at $1.5 billion when they were
           transferred. No services are provided in return for these
           payments. No other G8 nation charges its airport users rents and
           the United States even funds airport improvements.
        2. Canada's Fuel Excise Tax is set at 4 cents per litre - almost
           4 times the US rate of 4 cents per gallon.
        3. Canada's passenger security charge is amongst the highest in the
           world, with a one-way domestic ticket paying $4.67 - almost double
           the US rate of USD$2.50 for a similar ticket.
    

    "ATAC was heartened by Minister Cannon's comment's on November 27, 2006,
when he acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Canadian air carriers concerns
related to federal fees and costs", stated Barone. "The time has come to
replace words with action if Canada is truly serious about being a gateway to
the world and opening new markets and destinations for Canadian travelers and
shippers", he concluded.

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For further information:

For further information: Fred Gaspar, Vice President, Policy and
Strategic Planning, (613) 233-7727 (ext) 314

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Air Transport Association of Canada

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