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Conference Board of Canada releases air transportation policy report

OTTAWA, Ont.–A new Conference Board of Canada report, Growing Canada’s Economy: A New National Air Transportation Policy, has outlined several recommendations towards improving Canada’s air transportation industry, which generates about $35 billion annually and supports more than 400,000 jobs.

The Conference Board said the last major changes in air transportation policy took place more than 20 years ago, and the full potential of the industry is not being realized. A new National Air Transportation Policy could both boost the sector’s economic impact and help the industry become more efficient, the report said.

The Conference Board report outlines elements of a new National Air Transportation Policy based on three broad areas: providing economic and social benefit to Canadians, border and security facilitation, and enhancing the industry’s competitiveness.

In addition to streamlining visa requirements, some of the other recommendations and policy considerations include:

examining the full liberalization of international air cargo markets; making the current federal infrastructure program for small and medium airports more inclusive and appropriately funded; defining clearly the role and performance of the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency and tying its funding more formally to Air Transport Security Charge revenues; encouraging all provinces to exempt transborder and international flights from aviation fuel taxes; and funding some security costs from non-user sources.

The economic “footprint” of the industry is based on the Conference Board’s analysis of direct, indirect and induced effects. The air transportation industry directly employs 141,000 workers and supports almost 405,000 jobs across the economy. Along with generating almost $35 billion in gross domestic product, the industry contributes over $12 billion to federal and provincial treasuries, including over $7 billion in taxes.

“Aviation fuels Canada’s economy in ways not everybody realizes right away,” said Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council. “This report outlines ways to help us maintain strong and vibrant air carriers and airports which are important not only for the industry, but also for the Canadian economy and job growth,” he said.

“Canada’s aviation sector creates jobs and economic activity across a wide spectrum of industries, links communities across Canada and expands markets for international investments. While these benefits are significant, the aviation sector could be contributing even more given its integral role in driving our economy, trade and tourism,” said Marc-André O’Rourke, Director of the National Airlines Council of Canada.

The report was jointly written by The Conference Board of Canada and SLI Airports and Aviation Group. Financial support was provided by the Canadian Airports Council and the National Airlines Council of Canada.