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Tories to raise airport security tax

Feb. 26, 2010, Ottawa - Air travellers are facing an April Fool's Day surprise that's no joke.


February 26, 2010
By The Canadian Press

The federal government is set to raise the airport security tax on April 1 — subject to parliamentary approval — to cover the cost of full-body screening and other new security measures.

Transport Minister John Baird announced Thursday that the government will put up $1.5 billion over the next five years to tighten security.

To cover that, air security fees will rise by $2.50 for a one-way flight in Canada, by $4.37 for transborder flights, and by $8.91 for international routes. The fees currently range from $5 to $16 a ticket, depending on the destination.

Baird played down the increase, saying it's not much more than the cost of an in-flight pillow or a headset.

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The announcement came after the government said next week's budget wouldn't raise taxes. Baird said the security charge is a user fee, not a tax.

The government announced recently that it will spend $11 million to buy 44 full-body scanners for airports.

And the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority — the Crown corporation responsible for keeping air travel safe — is bringing in a new behavioural observation program to look for suspicious travellers. It will spend millions to train people in the techniques.

Baird blamed the failed Christmas terror attack on a U.S.-bound airliner for increased security needs.

''The terrorist attack that took place just two months ago today was a stark reminder for governments to remain vigilant about aviation security.

''Our government is unwavering in our determination to keep all Canadians safe and secure from terrorism, and we are taking the necessary measures to meet this goal.''

Baird also announced a full review into the security agency itself. The study will look at the agency's spending, efficiency and structure.