Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Grounds crew work near a Westjet aircraft at Terminal 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport on July 14, 2020.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is raising its surcharges on domestic flights in response to a 30 per cent rate increase by Nav Canada, which operates air navigation across the country.

The airline says it has hiked the fee it charges for air traffic control services by between $4 and $7 per passenger, depending on flight duration.

It also says it is looking into an appeal of the rate increase, which is effective Tuesday, and will scrap the surcharge if the move is successful.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are deeply concerned the Nav Canada rate increase will lead to a further reduction in the number of travellers,” WestJet CEO Ed Sims said in statement.

“We are sympathetic to their situation, like ours, where a lack of sector-specific federal support has hindered their ability to recover. Burdening travellers who have been severely impacted by this pandemic with incremental costs will only serve to undermine Canada’s economic recovery.”

Air Canada said it is still reviewing the impact of the decision, which Nav Canada announced in May. Transat plans to adjust its fares to reflect the higher cost, rather than include it as a surcharge.

The rate hike represents a “significant additional cost” for carriers, underscoring the “shortcomings” of the country’s user-pay model and hindering the industry’s already uncertain recovery, said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.

Meanwhile some airports have said they will increase their airport improvement fees by half after laying off hundreds of staff, adding to carriers’ financial worries.

Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc., says the fee boost at Nav Canada will hit travellers trying to visit friends and family the hardest, as domestic business travel has largely dried up.

“These are people that are also suffering economically, and to ask them to come up with an additional X amount of dollars is adding insult to a very grievous injury,” Kokonis said.

Story continues below advertisement

The higher surcharge at WestJet could cost a family of four up to an extra $56 on a round trip.

Canada, unlike countries including France, Germany and the United States, has held off on sector-specific support for carriers. Instead Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rolled out financial aid available across industries, including the federal wage subsidy — now extended to December — and loans starting at $60 million for large firms.

“Ottawa is fiddling while the house is burning. I can’t say it any better. They are all frustrated that nothing is coming out of Ottawa,” Kokonis said of Canadian airlines.

Transat spokesman Christophe Hennebelle criticized Canada’s continued blanket restriction on foreign travellers and called for more financial aid.

“Nav Canada has no other option but to increase its service charge. However, this can only worsen the situation,” Hennebelle said in an email, highlighting the “complete collapse in passenger volumes.”

To draw customers back to the skies, carriers north of the border have largely done away with change fees until a couple days before takeoff.

Story continues below advertisement

In the U.S., United Airlines scrapped its US$200 change fee for domestic flights on Sunday.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies