Business groups push to Open Skies in Canada
October 01, 2013
VANCOUVER, B.C. —
The Vancouver Board of Trade and Richmond Chamber of Commerce are moving the dial forward on improving air access in Canada.
Earlier this week, the two organizations joined forces to bring the issue to the attention of business organizations from across the country, during the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Annual General Meeting in Kelowna.
Over the course of several days, representatives from the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Vancouver Board of Trade advocated for their joint policy resolution — Improving Air Access for the Benefit of the National Economy — both in private meetings and on the floor in front of 600 delegates.
Despite some dissenting views initially, the two organizations were ultimately successful in swaying opinion in favour of their policy, which was formally adopted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on Monday morning.
“This is a huge win, not only for our two organizations, but potentially for consumers and businesses across Canada,” said Elio Luongo, Chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade. “We pushed this issue on to the national agenda because we firmly believe that Canada needs a more progressive approach to air policy.”
“Enhanced air access policy is vital to Richmond, British Columbia, and the entire nation,” said Howard Harowitz, Chair of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Policy Advisory Committee. “International flights not only carry passengers, which are key to tourism and business, but also cargo imports and exports, essential to international trade and our Canadian economy.”
It’s estimated that every time a 777 or larger aircraft lands at a Canadian airport, 1,700 hours of labour demand are created. Just one plane per day of this size, in one airport in Canada, would create at least 310 family-supporting jobs.
“The time has come for us to acknowledge that the current system is holding us back,” added Vancouver Board of Trade President and CEO Iain Black. “Simply put, our aviation industry is not as competitive as it should be, which is driving both cargo and travellers across the border to U.S. airports and costing our economy dearly.”
The Vancouver Board of Trade and Richmond Chamber of Commerce prepared their joint resolution earlier this year, and submitted it to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for consideration in late July. The resolution stresses the need to move from “Blue Sky” bilateral agreements with foreign airlines to more progressive “Open Skies” agreements, which are market-driven and allow for airlines to determine the appropriate level of capacity and competition in the marketplace.
Of particular importance is the need to negotiate Open Skies agreements with Asia Pacific nations. This region presents one of the largest growth opportunities, however restrictions in certain bilaterals do not allow Canadian airports — and therefore Canada’s economy — to effectively compete in this vastly expanding marketplace.
The resolution also calls on the federal government to review and reduce the government-imposed taxes, fees and charges on air travellers, to further improve Canada’s ability to attract international tourists.
The Richmond Chamber and The Vancouver Board of Trade continue to collaborate on issues of regional importance, in conjunction with the BC Chamber of Commerce including issues pertaining to Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
To read the full resolution and its six recommendations for government, click here.