ATAC seeking level playing field
Feb. 26, 2013, Ottawa - The Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) has appealed to the government for a level playing field for the air transport industry in Canada. Faced with a $4.2 billion deficit of its Defined Benefits Pension Fund, Air Canada has filed a request to the Canadian Government for a $150 million cap on its annual funding obligations for the next ten years starting in 2014. This would affectively mean $700 million in relief per year for the next five years.
The Air Transport Association of Canada has represented the commercial aviation industry in Canada for almost 80 years with a membership of over 170 members. In a recent letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President and CEO of ATAC John McKenna argued: "Relief offered exclusively to a former crown corporation, that has already had immense support, not forthcoming to their competitors, is not the type of strategy that would benefit Canadians or the air industry now or in the future."
ATAC is convinced that granting relief to only one carrier would seriously impact the competitiveness of Canada's airline industry. Not having to meet pension fund obligations grants a huge advantage not available to other companies in the industry.
Should the Government offer such relief, ATAC strongly recommends that a short-term solution be applied based on annual approvals using established financial measurement tools. Too many variables could change over such a long time to be locked into a ten year period.
"ATAC is a strong proponent of a level playing field in air transport in Canada. Consequently, we urge the Government to draft a response to Air Canada's request in such a way that it would help all Canadian carriers equally rather than privilege one carrier above all others. ATAC respectfully suggests that the Government keep in mind that the Canadian air transport industry as a whole is an essential service and not just any one carrier," concluded Mr. McKenna.