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Ottawa Perspective: Free Trade in Air Transport?

Two years ago, restructuring our airline industry seemed straightforward.


October 3, 2007
By Ken Pole

Topics

Two years ago, restructuring our airline industry seemed
straightforward. Some analysts expected that once the dust had settled
from its acquisition of Canadian Airlines International (CAI), Air
Canada would bear our international flag and serve key domestic
centres. Niche carriers would fill the domestic gaps and rule charter
services. But economic indicators proved inaccurate and the market went
into a tailspin, the effects of which were aggravated by the dot.com
meltdown. Then there was September 2001 and the media-driven frenzy of
fear that followed and, to some extent, persists today. Aircraft
manufacturers' order books are still full, but production timelines
have had to be moved back as carriers put off capital upgrades.

What to do? Debra Ward, the former Tourism Industry Association of
Canada president, was mandated by Transport Minister David Collenette
to examine the impact of airline restructuring on carriers, their
employees, airports, consumers, communities and the travel trade in
general. She also was tasked with reviewing how Ottawa has implemented
Bill C-26, the package of legislative amendments that came into force
in July 2000 as the government tried to come to grips with
restructuring.