October 26, 2017

Yukon Airports Controversy Builds


The president of Air North has written an opinion piece in the Yukon News urging governments to cut costs rather than raise fees for air travelers.

Joe Sparling was reacting to controversy over the proposed Public Airports Act, and warning against using it as a cash cow.

The Yukon government tabled the legislation last week and is getting a lot of backlash on the details. One of the main complaints is that it formulated the sweeping law with little or no consultation with stakeholders.

In a statement released last week, the ruling Liberal Party said it has no plans to increase fees but the legislation does give the government the ability to implement fees. The Liberals say the legislation is needed codify the operation of airports in the territory. There is mix of cross-jurisdictional regulations and laws governing air transportation and a single unifying set of regs has been seen as necessary.

In his Op-Ed piece, Sparling said that Canadian airports often lose sight of their primary responsibilities and spend money on art installations and other amenities.

He said keeping costs down are central to ensuring an accessible and successful industry. He said increasing fees doesn’t raise revenue because it discourages air travel and revenues can actually drop.

The legislation is currently at first reading and Sparling said he’s been personally assured that costs will not spiral because of it.

Although the legislation has been tabled with little industry consultation, the government has pledged that more will take place.

“Feedback on the draft legislation has been received and the discussion is ongoing as drafting the regulations is still to come,” the Liberal statement said, noting the bill tabled in early October is a “framework” for future legislation.

COPA has submitted comments to the Yukon government on the proposal.