Canada’s closed skies

Canadian and U.S. airlines are limited to cross-border runs

by Chris Sorensen

FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Irish discount airline Ryanair is advertising flights from London to Frankfurt (Hahn) for the equivalent of about $11, plus fees and taxes. There’s a few catches: one checked bag can cost an extra $38 and the small Hahn airport is over an hour away from the German financial centre by bus.

It’s the kind of bargain we don’t see in Canada. A recent study by Winnipeg’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy found Canada has higher average airfares than both Europe and the United States. The culprit? Relatively little competition. In Europe, airlines can fly wherever they want thanks to a NAFTA-style aviation agreement. That’s not the case in North America, where Canadian and U.S. airlines are limited to cross-border runs. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the skies to open up. Protectionism runs deep in the U.S. airline industry and Ottawa won’t cede the Canadian market without getting something in return.




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Canada’s closed skies

  1. Is this what we call the " free enterprise system " in North America? The "soziale marktwirtschaft" [socially responsible economy] in many European countries seems to be more consumer friendly than our system that seems to entice enterprises to seeks a monopolistic position above anything else instead of promoting the opposite.

    • Europe has far more competitive skies than we do. Any plane from any EU airline can accept flights to and from any EU airport.

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