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October 27, 2017 8:57 pm

Flight Costs – You Can Help Make a Change

Friday, September 30, 2016 @ 6:00 AM


Mike McNaney, VP Corporate Affairs for West Jet – photo 25News

Prince George, B.C.-  For Mike McNaney,  Vice President of Corporate Affairs for WestJet,  there is something air travellers can do to help bring down the cost of  flights.

“Contact your MP” said McNaney to a  Prince George Chamber of Commerce lunch gathering.

It’s all about  changing Federal policies and funding.

McNaney says  with billions invested in capital,  plus operational, maintenance, taxes and landing fees,  WestJet’s average profit per  passenger is $14 dollars.  That doesn’t give an airline a lot of wriggle room  if the flights aren’t full or the cost of fuel  jumps.

McNaney  explained that U.S. carriers  are able to  offer discount or lower  priced  flights because  so much  of the  industry south of the border is subsidized  “We are competing  against the U.S. Treasury.”  He  says  with American  government funding readily available for  airports, runway expansions along with favourable  fuel taxes  and landing fees  with a policy that caps Airport improvement fees at just $4 dollars,  it is no surprise that  American carriers can offer  low cost  flights.  In fact,  he says Southwest Airlines has had the right to offer  it’s low cost service in Canada for  the past two decades, “And has made the conscious decision not to fly here.  It says a lot about the state of our  (Canadian) industry and  the cost to do business here.”

McNaney  says the  Federal Government has been listening to the  challenges  faced by  Canadian Airports and airlines ” The current government has been carrying out  a wide range of consultations on transport policy in general, not just aviation.  We have  certainly participated in those consultations, as has the  local airport, I am hopeful the messages are being heard, and I am hopeful that the  economic generation  and spin off that this industry   brings to Canada,  I  am hopeful that recognition of that is occurring.”   He says a lowering of costs in operating  would  increase opportunities for  services,  “If you lower  operating costs overall, there is an opportunity then for   more flights, more service,  because more can be provided at an economically profitable  perspective.”

But if the playing field is   levelled in order to entice  low cost  American carriers to  offer service in Canada,  would that not  put extra pressure on  Canadian  operators like WestJet?  “If we actually get to a point in  terms of public policy where  those other carriers that don’t fly here actually are  serving  here,  that means we   are establishing the right to an  equal playing field in Canada that  is going to benefit everybody.  So yes you will get  more competition,  that’s fine, we’re  going to have an overall lower operating cost in Canada, that will benefit  every operator,  the carriers, the airports, but will ultimately  benefit the consumer and that will lead to more flights and more service.”

McNaney  explained  why WestJet cancelled its direct flight between Prince George and Calgary  as being a decision based on the “softness of the market”  but says WestJet is keeping an eye on the kind of activity that may  be  forthcoming with the recent approval of the  PacificNorthwest LNG project  and  the opportunities that  may present themselves  should that project move forward.




Don’t wait for LNG just get busy and get that beef to China that our local MLA’s are talking about. I seem to remember something about a meat packing plant in PG.

When oil was over 100$ a barrel, Westjet said the ticket prices were a reflection of this cost.Now that oil has tanked, prices have actually went up higher than the days of 100$ a barrel oil. So they put in the extra baggage charges, adjusted carry-on rules.igh.. and still.. prices are higher.

In other words, nobody believes you or your airline.

    “Adjusted carry on rules?” Yeah, right. They really need to start enforcing those rules. They’d make a tonne of cash if they started making people check their bags instead of allowing people to carry on 3 or 4 obviously oversized items.

      Actually, in the past couple of years I have been disturbed to find that the airlines actually encouraged me to carry on bags rather than check them.

    FYI fuel is purchased in U.S. dollars, so even with fuel costs down, the low Canadian dollar means there have been no savings for Canadian carriers.

    -Elaine Macdonald-Meisner

Airlines are all about economies of scale. There is not enough passengers in the North Central Interior to support much more airline business than we presently have. Even with a possible (I repeat possible) LNG plant in Prince Rupert it would make little difference to the overall Airline Operations in North Central BC. Nor would Site C make a big difference.

Air China Cargo established a new flight from Edmonton to Shanghai in July of 2015.

The flight which runs three times a week, is the first for the company in Canada and includes Edmonton on a cargo run that flies to Dallas Texas.

The flight will run Shanghai to Edmonton to Dallas, and Dallas, Edmonton, Shanghai, three days per week. Will open up huge cargo opportunities for Edmonton and the Region, and one would expect that beef would be included.

They will use a Boeing 777-200F freighter. Edmonton Intl Airport estimates that this service will generate $31 million GDP gain per year for the region.

Have a nice day.

So…basically he’s looking for a government subsidy?

    Sort of, but he’s not just begging, he’s asking for a level playing field versus the US.

About airport fees, are those millions paid for all that fancy artwork in the Vancouver airport worth it?

Hey I just can see it now, lets fly to the Vancouver airport to look at the art, ya right.

    I forgot this, at Vancouver instead of millions spent on artwork how about instead spend it a system to get people from one side of the terminal to the other. They sure got their priorities mixed up.

      A lot of airports seem to be designed to maximize the exposure of passengers to shops rather than to make things easier for passengers.

How about doing it like the Samoan airlines does it . They weight the passengers and charge them by the pound .

    That’s discrimination!

air flight is cheap. It is when transport Canada got out of the airport business we started to get fees.

Remember back in 1984, flight to Vancouver and back cost $800.00, today even with the airport fees, it is under $450.00. If you factor in the rate of inflation that $800 flight should be costing us closer to $2000

in the grand scheme of things, it is cheap. I would rather fly with a profitable airline, than one that can not afford to maintain the planes properly. Think about it.

I had a good laugh reading this story, a airline company operating out of our airport asking the public for political intervention assistance. This goes to show just how far away we are from having massive international cargo jets using our extended runway, our fuel depot, and our global logistics park.

Right wing dreams, turning into return on investment nightmares… and the next right wing dream is beef flying through the air… so how much of our tax dollars is it going to take to make that a reality?

    I wonder where they plan to build the abattoir and feed lot for the flying cows ? Willow river would be far enough down wind . First cows then pigs . Yikes . Be careful what you ask for . You might just get it .

    I fail to see any left or right wing priorities here, but just for the sake of knowing, please be so kind and tell me what the left wing dreams are in respect to airports and international trade by air in our fair city and area? Are there any or do we just leave everything up to a stroke of good luck while waiting for others to make something happen?

So they get the message, DON”T USE THEM.
Not that everyone will do it
but if they did the airlines would wake up really quickly and adjust their inane policies and outlandish rates.

I will give them a bit of credit, the airports charge some ridiculously high landing fees that someone has to pay for and that would be the flyers.

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