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Air Canada's all-in fares land earlier than expected

Air Canada aircraft are seen at Toronto Pearson International Airport, September 20, 2011.


Air Canada has launched "all-in" airfares in its advertisements that incorporate taxes, fees and surcharges, months before Ottawa drafts regulations that would make the change mandatory.

Air Canada's all-in ticket prices are based on one-way flights for North America and sun destinations, while round-trip fares are listed on overseas routes. For instance, flying between Toronto and London's Heathrow Airport costs $887 – including taxes and fees of $643 – for a round trip, on limited dates, during a current seat sale. Formerly, Toronto-Heathrow would have been advertised as $244 one-way.

And a sale fare from Toronto to New York's LaGuardia Airport now shows up in larger-sized type as $135 one-way, displayed with taxes, fees and surcharges included. In smaller print is the base fare of $49 one-way.

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While Canadian carriers have resisted this change in the past, the recent adoption of all-in pricing by many foreign operators has paved the way for its implementation here.

"Air Canada is adopting a new all-inclusive price display for its website, webSaver e-mails, online third-party advertisements and print advertising," the country's largest airline said Wednesday.

Last month, the carrier's website introduced a new feature allowing consumers to scroll over base fares to get a popup of taxes, fees and other surcharges.

Canada's airline industry agreed with Ottawa two months ago – after years of delays – to make it mandatory for domestic carriers to advertise all-in ticket prices.

In early January, WestJet Airlines Ltd. began running newspaper advertisements with all-inclusive fares and will broaden the initiative to its reservation system soon. Porter Airlines Inc. said it will start showing "one price" on Friday, without highlighting taxes and fees separately.

The Canadian Transportation Agency will draft regulations by the end of 2012 to require domestic airlines to market full fares to consumers, scrapping the customary practice of promoting ticket prices before factoring in taxes, security levies, fuel surcharges, airport improvement fees and airline charges for air navigation services.

The move by Ottawa comes more than four years after approval of Bill C-11 seemingly paved the way for airlines to switch to all-in advertising instead of marketing base fares. As far back as 2003, the federal government has sought to force airlines to list the full price of their tickets.

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The carriers now say they are on board this time because many foreign operators have moved to all-in airfares and travel agencies will be part of new regulatory discussions.

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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