Aviation Competitiveness an Election Issue, Airports Say



    CAC urges federal parties to address aviation competitiveness as an
    impediment to tourism and trade growth

    OTTAWA, Sept. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Airports Council today
called on the federal political parties to make improving aviation
competitiveness an important part of their platforms. The association, which
serves as the voice of Canada's airports, said aviation competitiveness is a
key component of improving Canada's world standing in international trade and
tourism.
    "Tourism is one of Canada's most important industries and a major
employer of ordinary Canadians, but a competitive disadvantage for Canada's
aviation sector is hurting Canada's competitiveness as a world class tourist
destination," said CAC President and CEO Jim Facette. "Airport rent, air
access to foreign markets, adequate resources for border services and aviation
security - these are all impacting Canada's competitiveness as an air service
destination and aviation is an important facilitator of global tourism and
trade."
    In a speech delivered in Montreal last week, Transat President and CEO
Jean-Marc Eustache said "Canada is currently not attractive to air carriers,
either as a hub or as a gateway to North America, due to federal policy that
has turned Canada's airports into "cash cows" for the government. Canada's
airports say they couldn't agree more, and for several years have called for
the federal government to eliminate airport rent - a $300 million a year
expense that airports have to pass on to air carriers and their passengers.
    "Internationally, tourism is a $6 trillion industry responsible for some
220 million jobs around the world - 2 million of them in Canada," said
Mr. Facette. "Yes, international travellers are expected to increase from
around 900 million today to 1.6 billion in 2020. But Canada's ability to
capture its fair share of this market is seriously threatened by federal
policies today that make Canada a less attractive destination for the world's
air carriers."
    The issue of aviation competitiveness in Canada is of increased concern
to the industry today as globally fuel prices squeeze the finances of airlines
around the world, all of which face a great degree of choice about where they
put their aircraft. Airports in Canada must compete for these aircraft, as
well as for local travellers.
    "Airports may also compete for local traffic. In Canada, airports in the
southern part of the country face competition from airports located just on
the other side of the U.S. border," Aéroports de Montréal President and CEO
Jim Cherry told delegates this week to the Airports Council International
(ACI) 18th General Assembly in Boston. Mr. Cherry currently serves as chairman
of ACI. "...More than ever, airports are courting airlines for new routes and
putting themselves under pressure to be efficient with high standards of
aircraft and passenger operations."
    The CAC noted that several key recommendations of the House of Commons
Standing Committee on International Trade's 2007 Ten Steps to a Better Trade
Policy took aim at the issue of aviation competitiveness. The CAC joined the
committee's call to negotiate more international air service agreements, wrap
up existing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, pursue more foreign
investment protection and promotion agreements (FIPAs) and improve domestic
policy to help Canadian companies compete globally.
    The Canadian Airports Council has issued an election questionnaire to
each of the federal political parties. In addition to airport rent, the
questionnaire polls each of the parties on the continued liberalization of
Canada's air service agreements with countries around the world - most notably
the European Union, with which talks are ongoing - and other issues of primary
importance to Canada's airports.

    About the Canadian Airports Council

    The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) is the voice for Canada's airports.
Its 48 members represent more than 180 airports, including all of the National
Airports System (NAS) airports and most significant municipal airports in
every province and territory. Together, CAC members handle virtually all of
the nation's air cargo and international passenger traffic and 95% of domestic
passenger traffic. They create well in excess of $45 billion in economic
activity in the communities they serve. And more than 200,000 jobs are
directly associated with CAC member airports, generating a payroll of more
than $8 billion annually.




For further information:

For further information: Daniel-Robert Gooch, Director of
Communications, Canadian Airports Council, (613) 884-1344,
daniel.gooch@cacairports.ca


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