Taxes, rent blames as Canadians dash to U.S. airports
Passengers line up to board a flight at Vancouver International Airport. June 18, 2012. (CTV)
Published Monday, June 18, 2012 5:14PM PDT
Canadian airports are calling on the federal government to address the millions of people who cross the border every year to find cheap flights out of American cities.
A recent study from the Canadian Airport Council shows that nearly 1 million people choose a Washington State airport over Vancouver International Airport each year. Across the country, that number grows to 4.8 million Canadians opting to travel out of U.S. airports.
A recent senate committee report says that travelling from Canada can add between 60 and 75 per cent to the cost of a plane ticket, most of which goes to taxes and fees that Americans don’t charge.
Brad Davies of Virtually There Travel says that the only options to reduce airfares are to increase competition or lower some of the extra fees.
“Bellingham and Seattle have an unfair advantage over YVR, and as a consequence there’s almost an exodus, especially for family travel, going south of the border. And really in today’s economy, who can blame them?” he told CTV News.
“If you have a family of four, if you can save $400 on a ticket, obviously you have to make that decision.”
Tony Gugliotta of the YVR Airport Authority says airport rent definitely factors into ticket prices.
“To the extent that the ground rent was reduced, our cost would be reduced and there'd be less pressure in terms of airline fees and charges, and that ultimately would be translated into the cost of the airline ticket,” he said.
Transport Canada says it’s committed to reducing taxes, but insists that airport rents aren’t a major factor in ticket prices.
“Airport rent accounts for less than one per cent of the total ticket price for air travel, and is not likely to be a key factor in a traveller’s decision to choose a U.S. airport over a Canadian airport,” the ministry said in a written statement.
Canadian airports estimate that they lose the equivalent of 64 Boeing 737s full of passengers to the States every day.
Discount airline Allegiant recently added cheap flights to Hawaii out of Bellingham Airport, and is planning to construct its own 9,000-square foot building on the property. The company has estimated that British Columbians make up more than half of its passengers out of Bellingham.
Allegiant spokesman Brian Davis says the carrier didn’t set out to attract Canadian passengers, but the bargains offered in the U.S. have been hard to resist.
“Everybody loves a good deal and as we know, on a one-way flight a customer can save in the ballpark of about $100 in taxes and fees by driving across the border,” he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Bhinder Sajan