New airline ownership rules good for Waterloo region travellers, MP says

Taken from CBC Kitchener-Waterloo

Changes to federal rules surrounding foreign ownership of domestic airlines could spell good news for travellers from Waterloo region, local MP Harold Albrecht says.

“This is a good move for Canadians, and especially for Waterloo region residents as there will now be more travel options available and lower costs for Canadians in general,” Kitchener-Conestoga MP Albrecht told The Morning Edition’s host Craig Norris Friday.

In a speech Thursday in Montreal, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said his government would be introducing legislation that would bump the cap of foreign ownership to 49 per cent, up from the current 25 per cent, although no one investor or group of investors could own more than 25 per cent.

“This will lead to more options for Canadians, and allow the creation of new, ultra-low cost airlines in Canada,” Garneau said.

One airline preparing to fly under new rules

Garneau said two airlines will be given immediate exemptions to the current foreign ownership rules – Everjet and Canada Jetlines.

Canada Jetlines has already expressed interest in flying out of the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

“The door is now open for smaller airlines such as [Canada] Jetlines to access capital that they need to expand airline service to our region,” Albrecht said.

In a statement on the company’s website, Jetlines CEO jim Scott said Garneau’s announcement is good news for “unserved and underserved markets” throughout the country.

‘The door is now open for smaller airlines such as Jetlines to access capital that they need to expand airline service to our region.’
– Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht

The announcement will “create thousands of jobs and help stimulate local economies in communities all across Canada. Once in operations Jetlines also intends to purchase new aircraft,” Scott said.

In an interview with CBC KW in August, Scott said they would ramp up operations and be ready to start flying six months after receiving approvals from Transport Canada.

Their plan is to roll out about five planes a year across Canada, with 18 planes serving mid-sized southwestern Ontario airports such as Waterloo, Hamilton and London.

“Waterloo is a perfect example of an airport which is too close to Pearson to get its own service, yet it has a big enough catchment area that it can support its own point-to-point service almost anywhere in North America,” Scott said.

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The Region of Waterloo International Airport could see more interest from smaller, low-cost airlines after changes to rules regarding foreign ownership of domestic airlines.

‘It really changes the picture’

Albrecht said those plans are ambitious and residents should expect new flights immediately.

But it will definitely benefit local travellers.

“It really changes the picture,” Albrecht said. “[Right] now you’re faced with travelling to Toronto, sitting in traffic to Toronto, waiting in the airport lounge there, flying to Ottawa. It’s often much simpler for us to drive, so most of the time we drive. That adds a lot of traffic to the 401, it adds time to our travel, so yeah, residents are eager to have more options.”

He added he’s confident the new rules will mean more competition, which will in turn mean cheaper fares for local residents.