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$700,000 saving if rent fees end: airport

Jun 08 2012

A Senate committee recommendation to eliminate rent charges to Canadian airports was applauded by the president of Victoria Airport Authority, but he doesn't expect changes any time soon.

Rental fees collected by the federal government contribute to high ticket prices in Canada, which is believed to be a major factor in why 4.8 million Canadians chose to fly with U.S. airlines last year, according to the report released Thursday by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport.

Victoria Airport sees far fewer customers travelling south of the border for airline tickets than other major city centres, such as Vancouver, but the elimination of rental fees would save the airport about $700,000 a year.

"It's probably a couple per cent against the overall revenue base, but whenever you see an opportunity to keep costs down, you support that," said VAA president Geoff Dickson.

The federal government has become dependent on airport revenues, according to the report, entitled The Future of Canadian Air Travel: Toll Booth or Spark Plug?

"High costs and inefficiencies throughout the industry are deterring demand for air travel and discouraging competition among carriers," the report says.

"Canada needs a single, cohesive National Air Travel Strategy, including an updated National Airports System, to chart a new course towards increased air travel."

Dickson welcomed the recommendations, but is not overly optimistic about any immediate changes.

"The one thing I know is that these things tend to take some time. They're going to have to analyze all this very deeply before making any decisions," he said. "It's still pretty early days, but we'll be watching."

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