air transport | More bad news for the regions

The regions are not at the end of their problems. Air Canada is reducing its services at Abitibi-Témiscamingue just two weeks after the Legault government announced $500 tickets. To the chagrin of businessmen, making a return trip between Montreal and Rouyn-Noranda in one day is no longer possible.

Posted at 11:00 am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

Andre Dubuc

Andre Dubuc
The press

“We will arrive in Montreal in the afternoon,” regrets Éric Beaupré, President and CEO of Technosub, based in Rouyn-Noranda. It’s wasted time. For business people, this is crucial. We’ll be gone another day. »

The market leader in the specialist for pumping solutions for industry and mining regularly travels on business trips to the United States and the rest of Canada. Air travel has deteriorated so badly that he chooses the airport in Timmins, Ontario when he doesn’t have to go through Montreal.

In force since 1ah On May 11, the change ordered by Air Canada means a traveler flying from Montreal to Rouyn-Noranda has 30 minutes at the destination if they want to return home the same day. The opposite is also true. Previously, a flight from Abitibi-Témiscamingue was offered at dawn with a late evening return.

Mr. Beaupré finds it difficult to understand the decision of the country’s largest air carrier when several economic indicators pointed in the right direction for Abitibi-Témiscamingue. At the end of the line, the mayor of the municipality of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Diane Dallaire, barely conceals her dissatisfaction with Air Canada.

If I have a $500 ticket but not the quality of service that comes with it, we lose user trust.

Diane Dallaire, Mayor of Rouyn-Noranda

“For business people, that doesn’t meet the needs at all,” she says. The city is not happy. That means leaving on Monday and coming back on Wednesday, that doesn’t make any sense. »

No options

Air Canada was the last airline to offer daily scenic flights to the region. According to Mme Dallaire, meetings with the company are planned in the “coming weeks”. Whether the service will be restored remains to be seen.

“We would have liked to be advised beforehand and not afterwards,” said the mayor.

In an email, Air Canada simply said it “takes note of the comments” and continues to “evaluate them.” [sa] Planning”. According to the President of the Rouyn-Noranda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, David Lecours, business people make up about 65% of link volume. In an interview, he did not hide his dissatisfaction with the turn of events, which will have a negative impact on members of the Chamber.

For aviation expert and McGill University lecturer John Gradek, the Rouyn-Noranda case testifies to the limitations of the plan Transport Minister François Bonnardel announced on 19 June 2019. Businesses and organizations are not entitled to subsidized tickets.

The $500 pitches are primarily intended to promote tourism and not to provide a proper service to the region’s residents. It is not a long-term plan to ensure adequate regional service.

John Gradek, aviation expert and lecturer at McGill University

Ultimately, Quebec will have to reconcile funding certain routes through tenders – a model in which the operating license is entrusted to an airline for a number of years – to ensure adequate service in certain regions, Mr Gradek believes. Some municipalities, such as Gaspé and Baie-Comeau, advocated this mechanism when the Legault government was preparing its strategy.

Other tools for Quebec

Claudia Loupret, Mr. Bonnardel’s press secretary, did not comment directly on the flight plan adjustment ordered by Air Canada. In an email, she pointed out that demand for several destinations is “currently very low”.

In the event that a region is no longer adequately served by a single carrier in the future, we can issue tenders to increase performance.

Claudia Loupret, spokeswoman for the Minister of Transport

This tool is one of the five actions in Quebec’s regional aviation plan. She had slipped under the radar ever since Quebec-subsidized $500 tickets always monopolized attention. So far, no market has been targeted for entrusting the operating license to a freight forwarder.

The Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ), the Quebec municipal lobby that has been lobbying for government intervention for years, declined to respond to Air Canada’s decision.

Learn more

  • 234
    Millions allocated by the Legault government over a five-year period to revitalize regional air travel.

    Source: Government of Quebec

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