ATAC still hoping for airport rent relief - Lack of action undermines government commitment to global competitiveness and open skies

    OTTAWA, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The Air Transport Association of Canada
(ATAC) expressed disappointment today that the Conservative government did not
include airport rent reductions in the budget, despite promises they made in
opposition to do so. The lack of action is hurting Canada's economic
competitiveness and undermining the Transport Minister's Blue Sky agenda.
    "Airport rent is a simple but brutal tax on aviation. It drives up costs
for airlines and passengers, thereby making Canadian destinations less
attractive for business and tourism. This is a tax on every single business
that relies upon Canadian aviation to move its people and goods," stated
Sam Barone, President and CEO of ATAC.
    "Air transportation is a key economic enabler for Canada, yet the
government treats it as a source of ongoing, short-term, revenue by levying
punishing industry-specific taxes. This is inconsistent with the rest of the
world and at odds with the stated budget focus on competitiveness and
providing Canada with an infrastructure advantage," added Barone.
    Peru and Ecuador are the only other countries that charge airport rent.
Canadian airports will pay over $300 million in rent in 2007. The airports
have already paid over $2 billion in rent since airports were divested to
local airport authorities in the mid-1990s, and must pay over $5 billion more
by 2020.
    Airport rent is having a particularly severe impact at Toronto Pearson
International, which is one of the most expensive airports in the world at
which to land a plane. About one-third of the cost to land a plane at Pearson
is directly attributable to rent.
    "Pearson is our domestic hub and Canada's gateway to the world. The
government should be doing everything possible to make Pearson competitive. At
a minimum, we hoped the Conservatives would honour their commitment to reduce
rent at Pearson," stated Barone.
    Recent studies by the C.D. Howe Institute, the Montreal Economic
Institute, and York University aviation expert Dr. Fred Lazar, have all
concluded that lower costs at Pearson would mean more flights, more jobs and
increased economic activity for southern Ontario. Given Pearson's central role
in Canada's air transportation system, the benefits would be felt across the
    ATAC continues to argue that the lack of action on airport rent is
directly at odds with the Transport Minister's Blue Sky agenda. Canadian
carriers face significant tax disadvantages compared to international
    "Last November Minister Cannon acknowledged the legitimacy of Canadian
air carrier concerns about federal fees and costs in relation to open skies.
We are now calling on the government to take action," concluded Barone.

    La version française est disponible

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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