Last updated on September 5th, 2018
Air Canada does not intend to reduce the price of its regional flights in the Atlantic, as it did in Quebec last week.
Members of the New Brunswick business community criticize the price of regional links, which they find high.
Last week, Air Canada made changes to its normal rates for regional flights in Quebec.
Quebec travelers will now be able to purchase flight cards at a discounted rate. For example, a card for 10 one-way tickets will cost just $324, a considerable discount.
Air Canada has also reduced its rates on flights booked 30 to 60 days in advance in Quebec.
For example, in New Brunswick, a one-way trip between Moncton and Montreal costs more than $ 150 and a flight between Moncton and Halifax costs more than $ 200, although the duration of the flight is only 40 minutes.
In addition, there are no direct flights connecting all three New Brunswick airports: Bathurst, Moncton and Fredericton.
For example, it takes a minimum of 4 hours and about $ 500 for a flight from Moncton to Bathurst via Montreal.
Air Canada did not explain why it only reduced its rates in Quebec. The company only indicated by email to Radio-Canada that it was not its intention to revise its prices in the Atlantic.
Air Canada’s “monopoly” criticized
In Quebec, the decision to cut tariffs follows criticism from several elected officials about what they call the Air Canada monopoly.
The mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, has even accused the company of practicing “wild capitalism”, since it increases its prices when a competitor withdraws from a given market.
In New Brunswick, the situation is similar: Air Canada operates the majority of flights.
The Bathurst Regional Airport is only served by Air Canada and approximately 70% of flights departing from the Greater Moncton Roméo-Leblanc International Airport and Fredericton Airport are operated by Air Canada.
“To reduce prices, there needs to be more competition,” said Bernard LeBlanc, President and CEO of Greater Moncton Roméo-Leblanc International Airport.
He explains that some low-cost airlines, such as Newleaf, have already operated flights to Moncton, but have pulled out due to low profitability.
It remains a priority for us to try to attract other airlines.
Bernard LeBlanc, President and CEO of Greater Moncton Roméo-Leblanc International Airport
Bernard LeBlanc said the airport was again in talks with Newleaf and Swoop, a new low-cost division of West Jet. He wants these companies to serve flights to Moncton so that prices are more competitive.
Rates limit travel by plane, says CFIB
According to Louis-Philippe Gauthier, director of provincial affairs in New Brunswick for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the cost of air travel can hurt small and medium-sized businesses.
Exporting is very important to our economy in New Brunswick.
Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Director of Provincial Affairs at CFIB for New Brunswick
“Anecdotally, I have heard over the years entrepreneurs told me they found it expensive,” says Louis-Philippe Gauthier.
According to him, air carrier fares do not necessarily constitute a “brake” for entrepreneurs, but they certainly limit the number of times they will travel.
“If an entrepreneur needs to move, he will do it. We are in Canada and we know that the costs of moving between certain regions are higher than elsewhere. Would it be appreciated that the costs are lower? Yes of course! ”
In his opinion, if Air Canada is able to offer discounts in one part of the country, it must be the result of a well-considered economic calculation.
The question is valid. Can the same calculation apply for the Atlantic and Maritime regions?
Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Director of Provincial Affairs, CFIB New Brunswick
More expensive for a plane to land in the region
It should be noted that airport improvement fees are used in the calculation of air fares. These fees are very high for some small airports, such as Bathurst.
The cost is the highest in the country with those at the Fort McMurray Airport in Alberta. These airports are asking for $ 40 in airport improvement fees.
In comparison, the Moncton Airport requires $25 and the Halifax Airport $28.