June 18th, 2024

WestJet calls for full federal review of aviation funding model

By The Canadian Press on May 22, 2024.

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech pauses for a portrait at the airline's headquarters in Calgary, Thursday, June 30, 2022. The CEO of WestJet Airlines says he is calling for a full federal government review of the way airports and aviation infrastructure in Canada are funded. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – The CEO of WestJet Airlines says he is calling for a full federal government review of the way airports and aviation infrastructure in Canada are funded.

Alexis von Hoensbroech told a Calgary business audience Wednesday that Canada’s “user pay” model for aviation infrastructure needs rethinking in light of ongoing public concerns about air travel affordability.

Canada’s major airports are all operated on federally owned lands by private, not-for-profit organizations.

They must pay rent to the federal government based on a proportion of their revenues.

Airports earn money by charging fees to airlines, to businesses like restaurants and to passengers through ticket surcharges such as “airport improvement fees.”

Von Hoensbroech says these charges drive up the cost of flying in Canada. He says WestJet believes the federal government should stop collecting airport rents in order to make travel more affordable.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2024.

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