A lot is being made these days about competition for our cable services and our "airwaves." What about competition in our skies? It is timely to reflect on why Canadians pay so much for air travel. In short, competition, or lack of it.
Would you be surprised if I told you this could change, that you could have greater choice of flights and cheaper fares, with a pen stroke? Would you be surprised if I told you there was a bureaucrat in Ottawa whose job it is to recommend to government which airlines should be allowed to fly into Canada, at which frequencies and at what price? The answers should surprise you; the answer is yes to both. Government dictates
(read: restricts) air travel in this country.
As the rest of the world moves forward with "open sky" type agreements, and reaps the benefits, Canada remains mired with restrictions, costing Canadians dearly. It costs you personally every time you fly and it costs all of us jobs and economic growth.
While there are structural cost differences between Canada and the U.S. that will need to be addressed over time, there are airlines today - which are willing to purchase aircrafts, hire staff and spend marketing dollars in their home markets - encouraging people to come to Canada.
Let's reflect on this. Others are willing to pay out of their pocket to encourage people to come buy our products (hotels, restaurants, golf, ski, tour, learn, etc.).
There is so much discussion today about diversifying our economy and job creation, it seems so apparent that removing this artificial barrier is now a very necessary thing. Economies don't just grow; you have to do something to help them grow, especially by removing artificial restraints By the stroke of a pen your government could allow more competition in Canada's skies and this would allow Canadians to enjoy more flight choices and cheaper tickets, and create jobs, both direct and indirect, at the same time.
Show your support for greater competition in Canada's skies. Visit the Facebook page, OpenSkies4Canada and tell your story, comment, or simply "like" it. You can also comment on twitter @CanadaOpenSkies Your MP has a voice in this issue. Let them know your thoughts!
former Richmond MLA Rob Howard
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