Op-ed: The Liberal Government Is Standing In The Way Of Affordable Air Travel

For months I have petitioned the Minister of Transport on the actions his Government has taken against Ultra Low-Cost Carriers (ULCC – airlines providing affordable, convenient flights) in Canada. As a Member of Parliament from the Waterloo Region, whose constituency is home to Waterloo Region International Airport, this matter is extremely important to me. Not only is the Liberal Government standing in the way of private enterprise, they are withholding a progressive, low-cost air travel option from thousands of Canadians. I have, and will continue to support the request for an exemption to the current rules under subsection 62c of the Canada Transportation Act – which would allow Jetlines and other carriers to obtain a license to increase the foreign ownership threshold to 49%.

Jetlines requires the exemption order to access capital from investors in Europe and the United States who are willing to provide start-up funding to Jetlines; allowing them to commence operations and establish Canada’s first true Ultra Low-Cost Carrier (ULCC).

With this change, Jetlines will serve Canadians not currently flying from Canadian airports due to high airfares and due to lack of service from Canada’s secondary airports. The Waterloo Region International Airport is one of the airports that Jetlines will use. This will provide new and more affordable travel options for residents of Waterloo Region and surrounding areas.

The launch of this airline will benefit many regions across the country. Canadians from coast to coast would become more connected through the use of secondary airports in desperately under-served areas, such as Halifax, Prince George, Kelowna and Winnipeg.

The aerospace industry in Quebec will also receive a tremendous boost. In addition to the service Jetlines can provide to Quebec City and St. Hubert, Jetlines is seeking to purchase up to 40 Bombardier C-Series jets; an order of great significance, that would help this iconic Canadian company to create more jobs in Canada.

On February 25th 2016, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport tabled the Canadian Transportation Act (CTA) Review Report in Parliament. The Report, entitled Pathways: Connecting Canada’s Transportation System to the World, represents 18 months of analysis, including:
-over 340 stakeholder consultations across Canadians traveling domestically and internationally to research and analyze models and best practices
-over 200 stakeholder submissions
-over 30 review secretariat commissioned studies

This report strongly recommended that Canada’s foreign ownership limit for air carriers be increased to 49%. However, despite the strong business case, significant market demand, and overwhelming support from airports and municipalities across the country including the Region of Waterloo, the Transport Minister’s office stated that a decision on the Jetlines application would not be forthcoming.

These delays are unacceptable: opportunities for greater access to travel options and more efficient service are being lost, resulting in huge costs to our local and national economy.

We don’t need billions of taxpayer dollars dumped into our economy – we need big government to get out of the way and let successful businesses provide our solutions.