Evidence of meeting #70 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was passengers.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Helena Borges  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Transport
Melissa Fisher  Associate Deputy Commissioner, Mergers Directorate, Competition Bureau
Ryan Greer  Director, Transportation and Infrastructure Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Mark Schaan  Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry
Anthony Durocher  Deputy Commissioner, Monopolistic Practices Directorate, Competition Bureau
Douglas Lavin  Vice-President, Members and External Relations, North America, International Air Transport Association
Glenn Priestley  Executive Director, Northern Air Transport Association
Allistair Elliott  International Representative, Canada, Canadian Federation of Musicians
John McKenna  President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada
Francine Schutzman  President, Local 180, Musicians Association of Ottawa-Gatineau, Canadian Federation of Musicians
Bernard Bussières  Vice President, Legal Affairs and Corporate Secretary, Transat A.T. Inc., Air Transat
Neil Parry  Vice-President, Service Delivery, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority
Jeff Walker  Chief Strategy Officer, National Office, Canadian Automobile Association
Massimo Bergamini  President and Chief Executive Officer, National Airlines Council of Canada
George Petsikas  Senior Director, Government and Industry Affairs, Transat A.T. Inc., Air Transat
Jacob Charbonneau  President and Chief Executive Officer, Flight Claim Canada Inc.
Daniel-Robert Gooch  President, Canadian Airports Council
Gábor Lukács  Founder and Coordinator, Air Passenger Rights
Meriem Amir  Legal Advisor, Flight Claim Canada

1:15 p.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

So the answer is no. On the other hand, it is very easy to lobby a minister's office. That is even part of lobbyists' work. I have the feeling that the measure in Bill C-49 that gives the minister this new power is probably the result of lobbying.

So I come back to the same question. By virtue of his new powers, can the minister circumvent all the Competition Bureau's work?

1:15 p.m.

Deputy Commissioner, Monopolistic Practices Directorate, Competition Bureau

Anthony Durocher

Once again, from the Competition Bureau's point of view, our role is clearly defined in Bill C-49.

1:15 p.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Yes, and I have no doubts about the relevance and objectivity of your work. If your work can ultimately be circumvented though, there is a problem.

1:15 p.m.

Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry

Mark Schaan

I would like to say something about the competition policy.

The beginning of this law was a function of the fact that we believed that there were considerations beyond those of a strict competition nature that needed to be considered in a joint venture transaction. That's what's being afforded by this particular opportunity. We maintained a very strict and compulsory role for the consideration of competition law by the minister, in addition to the public interest, to come to an ultimate determination of whether a transaction is in the public interest for Canada and Canadians.

1:15 p.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

When it comes to competition, everyone knows what we are talking about. In the case of public interest, however, it is not clear. Might there be a solution or an amendment to clarify this? Along with giving the minister an additional power, would it also be possible for the bill to define the concept of public interest?

1:20 p.m.

Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry

Mark Schaan

The proposal is to have public interest expanded upon in the guidelines to allow for an evolutionary understanding of public interest, because it changes, and to allow for a full and robust consultation on what that is.

1:20 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

We've finished the first round. Does anyone have a single question they did not get a chance to ask that's important? Mr. Godin.

1:20 p.m.


Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Chair, I have a very quick question. Thank you for letting me ask it.

My question is for the official from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Here is what I understood from your comments today. On the whole, your members are satisfied with Bill C-49. Have I understood you correctly today?

1:20 p.m.

Director, Transportation and Infrastructure Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Greer

I think that's a bit of a broad statement.

Our membership is very wide and has a lot of different interests within the Canadian chamber. There are some aspects of Bill C-49 which we view as good and necessary, and we are still waiting to see some of the details.

There are other issues, on the rail side, where we're not as certain. Often the chamber, with the size and scope of our network, comes at it from a broad approach, and we have some broad concerns about the creeping regulation into the sector and what that may mean for investment, for productivity, and for the effectiveness of all Canadian supply chains.

We like a lot of what's in Bill C-49. With some parts, we still need to see what's in the regs, and there are other parts where we have some concerns.

1:20 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Thank you to our witnesses. Sorry for the interruption, but I think everybody has had their questions and their answers that they needed for today.

We will suspend and reconvene in camera at two o'clock.

2:25 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

I am calling our meeting back to order, our study of Bill C-49.

Apologies that we're a few minutes behind schedule, but welcome to all of you who are here.

If you would like to start by introducing yourselves, we will start with Mr. Lavin.

You have 10 minutes for your comments.

2:25 p.m.

Douglas Lavin Vice-President, Members and External Relations, North America, International Air Transport Association

Madam Chairwoman and honourable members, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before this committee as it considers Bill C-49.

My name is Doug Lavin, and I am the vice-president for member and external relations for North America for the International Air Transport Association, or IATA.

IATA is a Canadian corporation created by a special act of the Canadian Parliament, representing the interests of 275 airlines in more than 117 countries around the world, including Air Canada, Air Transat, Cargojet, and WestJet. As such, IATA has a significant interest in the proceedings of this committee on Bill C-49.

I have submitted my written comments on Bill C-49 for your consideration in advance of today's hearing, but I'd like to take my time this afternoon to highlight several points included in that submission.

First, it is important to note that a key recommendation of the 2016 Canada Transportation Act review was to reduce the high level of government taxes and fees on Canadian air transportation because of their significant negative impact on both airlines and passengers. Specifically, the CTA review recommended a phasing out of airport rent, a reform of the user-pay policy to prevent the government from collecting taxes in excess of its investment in services and infrastructure, and a reduction in the air traveller security charge.

In announcing the government's transportation policy, Minister Garneau promised a reduction of what he characterized as a “litany of fees and charges” on air travel. In fact, this morning he mentioned that he had travelled the country in preparation for Bill C-49, and the number one issue he heard about was the high cost of air travel.

IATA was therefore disappointed that Bill C-49 fails to address any of these cost issues—no call for a reduction in rent, taxes, or fees.

To be fair, Minister Garneau has promised to address these cost issues in phase two of the government's vision for the future of Canadian transportation. We look forward to supporting Minister Garneau and his team in this second phase.

I believe my airline and trade association colleagues who have testified before you yesterday and this afternoon are better equipped than I am to address the issues of airline ownership, joint ventures, and CATSA cost recovery set forth in Bill C-49. I'd like to focus my remarks on Bill C-49's call for the Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada to develop enhanced air passenger protection regulations.

IATA is currently working with approximately 70 governments that have either implemented or are considering implementing air passenger rights regulations. As you would expect, some governments have done a better job than others in this regard. We have seen two primary approaches to these passenger rights regimes.

The first approach is that government steps in and dictates how airlines should treat their passengers. This model is best seen in the approach taken by the United States and the European Union, where regulations impose stiff fines if airlines do not meet government-imposed requirements as to how passengers should be treated in the case of delay, cancellation, or lost baggage.

For the most part, these fines are punitive in nature, as they go beyond the cost of the delay or cancellation to the air passenger. We see a number of challenges to this approach.

First, it is difficult to define in regulatory terms exactly how to treat passengers in any given circumstance. Each irregular operation presents a different set of facts that are difficult to anticipate, much less to regulate. In Europe, for example, the courts stepped in to interpret the intent of the European passenger rights regulations, which more often than not resulted in contradictory interpretations and confusion on the part of airlines and passengers alike.

Second, the most well-intentioned government regulators can sometimes do more harm than good when attempting to protect passenger interests. For example, in the United States the rule against lengthy tarmac delays has resulted in increased flight cancellations, which often prove to be more inconvenient to passengers than the tarmac delay itself.

In 1987, Canada deregulated the commercial airline industry based on the belief that the free market, rather than government regulation, would produce better results for airline passengers. There is little evidence to suggest that this assumption was incorrect then or now. We know that rare tarmac delays or lost luggage occasionally cause inconvenience for air passengers. However, the answer is not always government second-guessing airlines when the competitive market, and more recently social media, already provides them with all the incentives they need to treat their customers as well as possible.

While Europe and the U.S. passenger rights approach have been copied by some governments, other countries have taken a second approach that I believe this committee and Canadian regulators should consider.

Under this approach, governments do not impose strict passenger rights rules with accompanied fines or penalties. Instead, they put measures in place to ensure that air passengers are fully aware of their rights before they purchase their ticket, leaving it up to passengers to decide what level of service they're willing to pay for.

Australia is a good example of this approach. In addition to adopting a broad consumer rights law covering all industries, the government has worked with the airlines to develop customer charters that outline each passenger's service commitments and complete handling procedures. China and Singapore have also chosen this focus on transparency rather than imposing punitive measures, and have seen positive results in terms of on-time performance, lower cancellations, and lower airfares

It is interesting to note that last year, the Canadian Transportation Agency took a step in that direction when it requested and received voluntary commitments by Canadian carriers to publish their tariffs and contracts of carriage in clear language on their respective websites.

Bill C-49 seeks to combine both approaches to this passenger rights issue. On the one hand, it requires airlines to make terms and conditions of carriage readily available to passengers in clear and concise language. IATA supports this transparency. Bill C-49 goes on to direct CTA and Transport Canada to develop regulations with minimum standards and compensation for passengers during irregular operations. IATA has significant concerns regarding this approach, particularly if the fines are prescriptive in nature.

If Bill C-49 remains as is and CTA and Transport Canada follow the U.S. and EU approach, we urge these regulators to follow several principles to promote clear and fair regulation. These include guarding against unintended consequences and including provisions to fix them when they arise, as well as ensuring that the benefits outweigh the costs of regulation. Compensation should be equivalent to the cost of lost time and property to passengers and not be punitive. We need to ensure that any customer service requirements apply to all parts of the air transportation ecosystem rather than just airlines, and that fines are only imposed on actions within the airline's control. Finally, passenger rights rules should not be extraterritorial in nature.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to answering your questions.

2:35 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Mr. Lavin.

On to Mr. Priestley, Northern Air Transport Association.

2:35 p.m.

Glenn Priestley Executive Director, Northern Air Transport Association

Thank you, Madam Chair.

To the committee, thank you for having the Northern Air Transport Association here. My name is Glenn Priestley and I am proud to be the executive director of NATA.

Our membership is representative of all aspects of northern and remote air operations. Our operators are committed to the highest possible standards and co-operating with all government agencies to achieve this standard with rules and recommended practices that make sense and support the Canadian aviation industry.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the committee and staff for including NATA, including northern and remote operations across Canada on these important discussions on the legislation contained in Bill C-49. Too often, aviation policy is formed with a focus on southern Canadian air services. There has been a genuine effort by this government and various committees like TRAN to understand the unique issues associated with northern and remote aviation and we thank you for that.

Bill C-49 is a large bill that has three sections that concern the Canadian aviation industry. For this briefing we'll be focusing on the passenger bill of rights legislation from the perspective of the northern travel experience. We'll be looking to ATAC as our senior association. We'll be looking at all of the aspects, but I'd like to focus on the passenger bill of rights, if I may.

The management of passenger safety and the overall cost of the travelling experience is a complex and daily issue for northern operators. Long-term commitment to isolated communities with initial and ongoing investment in newer aircraft and facilities creates a special bond between the air carrier and customer. The relationship is more like a partnership, and a unique aspect of all northern operators is significant commercial partnerships with many first nation and Inuit governments. These relationships provide a recognition of the needs of communities and individuals.

Examples of this recognition would be the reserved seating section to community elders located in most northern airport waiting areas. Northern operators have had to find solutions to operational problems that simply do not exist in the south. Examples include long-range flight planning with limited information and support, creating the need for contingency planning to ensure the safety of the travelling public.

This committee had a substantial focus in its June 7, 2017, report on aviation safety in Canada regarding the lack of northern aviation infrastructure needed to improve the travel experience and improve overall system safety and service reliability. The northern focus concluded with the following recommendation, “That Transport Canada develop a plan and timeline to address the specific operating conditions and infrastructure needs of airlines serving Northern Canada and small airports.”

Referring to the Canada Transportation Act amendment to include passenger rights legislation, the Northern Air Transport Association is very concerned with the generalities and the wording, and the increase in regulatory authority that these amendments and others will provide to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

To be clear, NATA agrees that fare-paying passengers have rights. However, there are concerns that because of problems that have been manifested in southern Canada and internationally, northern air carriers are going to be burdened with one-size-fits-all. NATA members are currently very engaged on flawed regulations that were developed this way regarding flight and duty time rules for flight crew.

Here is our summary.

NATA agrees that the travel experience should be as transparent as possible with expectations clearly stated.

NATA does not agree with any minimum standard of compensation in the regulations, as there are simply too many variables.

NATA does agree with the procedures that provide passengers with essential notice for any unscheduled occurrence that causes delay.

NATA agrees every air carrier continue to maintain some form of operation control manual for these and other procedures associated with carriers of passengers and their carry-on-board items as well as checked baggage.

NATA is concerned with the blanket amendment that empowers the minister to give the CTA extra-regulatory authority without consultation.

In summary, the Northern Air Transport Association has an excellent service record with its passenger management, challenging flight environments, and difficult locations. Northern operators pride themselves on a tradition of providing hot meals, for instance, on many flights included in the price of the ticket. Northern operators are invested in the community in a different way than southern operators, which is easy to explain.

NATA agrees passengers have rights. Our operator members have been respecting all their customers for a long time with recognition for special needs and unique cultures. NATA is proud to be an original member of the CTA's accessibility committee, an important forum that provides guidance to our members on how to make a good system better in the movement of all passengers.

Any passenger bill of right needs to recognize existing industry efforts regarding passenger safety. We encourage a new air carrier-centred conflict resolution model to be developed to replace the current CTA model that inhibits consumers' participation.

Thank you.

2:40 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Mr. Priestley.

Now we'll go to the Canadian Federation of Musicians. It would have been lovely if we could have had some music in here this afternoon for us to enjoy as we finish our fourth day of being here.

Ms. Schutzman and Mr. Elliott, please go forward.

2:40 p.m.

Allistair Elliott International Representative, Canada, Canadian Federation of Musicians

Before I begin, I'd just like to express our condolences for the loss of your colleague.

2:40 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you.

2:40 p.m.

International Representative, Canada, Canadian Federation of Musicians

Allistair Elliott

Good afternoon. Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear.

We are pleased to be able to have a discussion with the members of the committee.

My name is Allistair Elliott. I'm the international representative for Canada for the American Federation of Musicians for the United States and Canada. As a professional musician over the last 40 years, I've travelled most of the world performing music. My performing career has been paralleled with my work for the Canadian Federation of Musicians, initially as an executive board member, then as president of the Calgary Musicians' Association, Local 547, of the AFM, since 1999, and now as an international representative for Canada.

I'm joined today by oboist, teacher, and my friend, Francine Schutzman, who played in the National Arts Centre Orchestra for 38 years. She's the past-president of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians, and currently the president of the Musicians Association of Ottawa-Gatineau, Local 180, of the AFM.

We are here today to enthusiastically applaud the Honourable Marc Garneau and Transport Canada for the inclusion of musical instruments as part of passenger rights in Bill C-49, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act.

The Canadian Federation of Musicians is the Canadian national office of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. We are comprised of 200 local offices across North America, collectively representing a membership of approximately 80,000 professional musicians, 17,000 of whom live and work in Canada. We've been representing the interests of musicians for 121 years.

As the distinctly Canadian division of AFM and under the federal Status of the Artist Act recognition, the CFM negotiates fair agreements and working conditions covering all musical services within Canada. Our goal is to pursue harmonization with the United States' FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, regarding the carriage of musical instruments on commercial air carriers. We have included our original submission to the Canada Transportation Act review in January 2015.

I just want to thank the Honourable Lisa Raitt—I know she was in this morning and she's not in this afternoon, but her colleagues can pass it on—for encouraging us to enter that submission a few years ago.

Following extensive advocacy to all the key stakeholders, we were very pleased to be included in the discussions on passenger rights and are looking forward to working together to develop regulations once royal assent has been received.

We would also like to thank Air Canada for leading the way as an airline and working closely with the CFM to provide better service to musicians. This summer, at the 4th International Orchestra Conference in Montreal, Air Canada was presented with the Federation of International Musicians Airline of Choice award for 2017.

We thank Air Canada and offer our congratulations.

Musicians travel for business with oddly shaped briefcases. Players of smaller instruments generally have no issues with stowing their instruments on board. The problems arise with larger instruments. Cellos are the ones that have the most problems. Many instruments are made of wood, fragile, and affected greatly by temperature, which in itself, can damage an instrument beyond repair. Instruments belonging to professional musicians are often old and very expensive. Cellists flying with their instruments typically purchase a second seat for that instrument, but are nevertheless sometimes told they may not take the instrument on board. That equals lost job opportunities, lost work, and lost income. Some of you may be familiar with a song called United Breaks Guitars. This song was generated by an incident in which a guitarist, Dave Carroll, was forced to check his instrument, which arrived at its destination in pieces.

We applaud the steps that have already been taken to ease the problems of musicians travelling with instruments and we thank CATSA for working with us directly on some initiatives. There's still much work to be done. What we need is a well-advertised, industry-wide policy, so that musicians may plan accordingly for business travel with the tools of their trade and the confidence they will make the job interview or performance on time and without incident.

I'd like to conclude with comments made recently by one of our more high-profile member musicians, Dr. Buffy Sainte-Marie, on the floor of the Senate of Canada, when she was given special recognition for her contribution to Canadian music. During her remarks, she asked that the government help connect the dots so that musicians could travel with their instruments. She cited an example where she was charged overage fees of $1,376 for an underweight guitar and a suitcase.

Musicians have long had difficulties transporting the tools of their trade, which are often very expensive and irreplaceable. On behalf of all musicians across Canada, we thank you for this inclusion, we applaud your efforts, and we look forward to working closely with you to develop regulations that will be effective for everyone.

Thank you.

2:45 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

We move now to the Air Transport Association of Canada and Mr. McKenna.

September 14th, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.

John McKenna President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

Good afternoon.

My name is John McKenna. I'm the president of the Air Transport Association of Canada.

ATAC has represented Canada's commercial air transport industry since 1934. We have approximately 190 members engaged in commercial aviation, operating in every region of Canada.

We welcome this opportunity to present our comments on Bill C-49 as it addresses important issues of commercial aviation in Canada. Passenger rights, foreign ownership, joint ventures, CATSA, and the CTA have been subjects of debate for some time.

My comments, however, will address only the major themes of the bill as the applicability of the proposed measures will be determined only by the company regulations to ensue. These regulations, which will be developed by the Canadian Transportation Agency, are probably one year away.

As for foreign ownership of Canadian airlines, the minister claimed, in his November 3, 2016, speech before the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, that increased foreign ownership “will lead to more options for Canadians, and allow the creation of new, ultra-low cost airlines in Canada”.

The presence of more airlines usually offers greater choice to travellers, but we have yet to hear convincing arguments supporting the claim that foreign investments will pave the way to ultra-low-cost carriers.

Contrary to what the government claims, increasing foreign ownership of airlines will not lead to the creation of ultra-low-cost airlines in Canada.

Lower operating costs to airlines, not the source of capital, are the key to lower costs to the travelling public. Only when the government decides to support, rather than bleed, the air transport industry will ultra-low-cost carriers stand a chance in Canada.

Increased foreign ownership of airlines can also lead to an increase in the export of profits generated in Canada to foreign interests rather than reinvestment in our industry.

This being said, we don't oppose the government's intention to allow foreign ownership of up to 49%. However, we ask that this proposed change be accompanied by reciprocity with our foreign partners. In other words, if we allow foreign investors to own a 49% stake in our airlines, we would expect to have the same privilege in their country.

I would be curious to know if our government has entered into discussions with our major trading partners on reciprocity in terms of increased foreign ownership of airlines.

Passenger rights is a popular theme in Canada, and the government wants to ensure that passengers are protected by law. Some of the measures the minister is keen to address include compensation standards for passengers for delays and denied boarding due to factors within the carrier's control, and lost or damaged baggage. The minister also wants clear standards allowing for children to be seated with parents at no extra charge, and for the transportation of musical instruments.

We appreciate that the government wants to help the travelling public navigate through simpler rules and have easier access to support in unfortunate circumstances where those standards are not being met.

Please bear in mind that over 140 million people travelled by air in Canada in 2016. The number of complaints filed each year at the CTA was well under 500. The reason I raise this is to give a perspective regarding the size of the problem. Of course some complaints remain at the airline level, but even then the vast majority of travellers have a good passenger experience.

We believe three major principles have to be incorporated in the passenger rights legislation.

A key principle of the bill is that the go-no go decision must remain with the pilot. The threat of severe, even unreasonable, financial repercussions should not be allowed to influence the pilot's decision.

Second, the compensation paid out to aggrieved passengers should be in line with the economic realities of travel in Canada. Unreasonable monetary compensation out of proportion to the magnitude of the carriers' revenue on any given flight could only result in a deterioration of our enviable air transport system, perhaps even including reduced service on some routes.

For example, air passenger rights in Europe are generous to the point that a passenger could receive compensation for a delayed flight which by far exceeds the price paid for the ticket.

Such practices can only lead to increased costs to airlines and to all passengers.

Shared responsibility is another major principle. You can't hold an airline accountable for events beyond its control, the minister has stated. Some of the measures we are looking at include compensation standards for passengers denied boarding due to factors within the carrier's control. We need a clear definition of what falls under a carrier's control.

While it may be a carrier's decision to cancel or delay a flight, the reason for doing so may be well beyond the carrier's control. Weather, ground delays as a result of de-icing pad congestion, snow clearance, congestion of the airport of destination, and air traffic control all affect an airline's decision. Also, some delays are safety related.

The safety of passengers is the utmost preoccupation of pilots and airlines. Safety-related delays should not result in penalties for the airlines. How such delays are managed by the airlines is what the law should address.

An additional principle is that a one-size-fits-all policy is so widespread at Transport Canada that Transport Canada's policy just can't apply here. You can't impose southern compensation standards as applied to Canada's largest airports to northern and remote airports.

Ease of compliance with the law, administration of complaints, and user-friendliness for passengers all depend on the complexity of the regulations which will accompany the proposed changes in the law.

We only ask that the government work collaboratively with stakeholders in the drafting of new regulations attached to the bill. Only then will the minister's objective of improving the passenger experience be met.

Thank you.

2:50 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Mr. McKenna.

We go on to questions with Ms. Block.

2:50 p.m.


Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I want to thank our witnesses for joining us today. I appreciate your testimony and look forward to all the questions and answers that we are going to hear over the next hour.

My first question will be for you, Mr. Lavin.

I think back to your opening remarks, and you referenced some of the key recommendations that were made by the Emerson panel in the CTA review to review and reduce some of the taxes in this industry. Then you went on to note that Minister Garneau had promised a reduction, and that Bill C-49 fails to address any of these costs. You also then went on to state that you were looking forward to phase two and being able to support the minister then in terms of when these things will come.

I want to clarify, is it your understanding that we'll be going through this process once again looking at Bill C-49 and then including some of the those changes? Am I hearing from you that we're going to be here again in a year or two?

2:50 p.m.

Vice-President, Members and External Relations, North America, International Air Transport Association

Douglas Lavin

I can't speak for the minister in terms of what his plans are or what the government's plan is, I can only tell you that his assurance to us when we challenged him on this issue was that it would be addressed in the second phase. As I said, that's the number one priority our member airlines that fly in and out of Canada have.

As you know, Canada gets incredibly high ratings for its aviation infrastructure. They're number one in the world, yet they're 68 in terms of taxes and charges around the world. That has a clear impact on airlines coming to this country.

As Mr. McKenna noted, the idea that ownership and control will change the equation here in terms of low-cost carriers is something we don't agree with because the biggest issue preventing airlines from establishing operations here in Canada is the high cost of doing business.

I'm hopeful on phase two. I wish it was phase one, but we'll be prepared to do it in any format that the minister proposes.

2:55 p.m.


Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Thank you.

I would open up my next question to any of the witnesses to answer. In your view, does Bill C-49 have the potential to increase or decrease the cost of air travel in Canada?

2:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

If I may, as I mentioned, that would all depend on the compensation that is set, the format that is set. If compensation is beyond reasonable, that can only drive up costs down the line.

I can give you an example. Two of my brothers travelled back from Europe this summer, and their flight was delayed by one day. They both got compensation that way exceeded the price they paid for the round-trip ticket for the trip. I'm saying that having this kind of policy in place will only drive up costs for everyone.