Canadians want action the airfare affordability crisis

  • National Newswatch

“Big Air's” unaffordable duopoly just isn't working for Canadians.

We've all seen the stories and seen the photos on our social feeds; row upon row of lonely luggage lined up by the baggage carousel. Delays, cancellations, and long-awaited vacations spoiled. It's a story playing out across the country as Canadians flood back into airports looking to finally get away after two long pandemic years.

As the head of an airline myself, I know firsthand the frustrations and complications many of our own customers have had to face and they have my commitment to do what we can, within our power, to make it right. But, while we're all struggling through the current travel crisis, once the current backlogs, delays and staffing shortages are a distant memory one big problem will remain –it's simply too expensive to fly with the “Big Air” carriers and it's keeping too many hard-working people away from the amazing experiences and connections with friends and family that they so richly deserve.

Recently, we asked 2500 Canadians for their thoughts about the Canadian airline industry (imagine, an airline that wants to know what you think!). The poll, conducted in May by Earnscliffe Strategies, tell us loud and clear that Canadian's are fed up with how air travel has worked in this country long before the current “airmageddon”:

  • 58% are frustrated with an air travel status quo that is dominated by just two major carriers, limiting choice, and keeping airfares sky high.
  • 82% agree that it's too expensive for the average Canadian to fly these days.
  • For those Canadians who find air travel out of reach, 60% say it's the cost of flying that keeps them grounded.
  • 85% of Canadians agree that it's wrong/frustrating that it's more expensive to fly within Canada than it is to fly to another country.

Those are some stark numbers. But they aren't surprising to anyone who's had to pay $800 to fly one way on a two-hour flight within Canada or found it cheaper to go to Portugal than to Kelowna. The 'Big Air' stranglehold on Canadian travel means they account for over 80% of domestic seats, which has led to Canada being ranked 100th out of 140 countries in airfare cost competitiveness and is why Canadians pay more than twice the price Americans do for similar-distance domestic flights. Change is clearly needed and affordable options like Flair are part of the solution. That's why as “Big Air” carriers like WestJet are pulling out of key markets, limiting your choice, and even going to court to block Canadian's from getting a refund is something goes wrong, low-cost carriers like Flair continue to grow into under-served communities like, Waterloo, Abbotsford and Edmonton.

In fact, Canadians have told us just how important it is for them to have affordable travel options like Flair, with 66% saying that ensuring flights are as affordable as possible should be a priority for Government regulation. Cleary, people are fed up. Enough is enough.

While it's important that we all do whatever we can to help mitigate the impact of the current travel crisis on our customers and help them to have amazing experiences, we can't lose sight of the big, systemic, affordability problem that's been an unfortunate Canadian travel reality for far too long. But there is some hope on the horizon.

More competition from carriers like Flair makes airfares across the industry less expensive — that's a fact[1]. When comparing the cost of flying with Flair versus fares on the same route with the “Big Air” carriers, Flair is projected to save Canadian travellers well more than $500 million in 2022 alone.

When we're past the current crisis in air travel Canadians don't want to snap back to a status quo that hasn't worked for them for far too long. By making different choices, by supporting a healthy, affordable, and competitive Canadian airline industry together we can drive real, systemic change in the affordability of airfare and give even more Canadians the chance to take in all the wonders of this amazing country and beyond.