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People watch airplanes land as they stand outside Toronto Pearson Airport in Mississauga on July 15, 2012.

The Globe and Mail

Canadian consumers strongly agree with the call to open up of the country's aviation market to foreign competition, a new poll by the Consumers Association of Canada indicates.

Seventy-seven per cent of the respondents agree with the statement that allowing more foreign airlines to fly to Canada will result in increased competition for their travel dollar, with six per cent disagreeing, the group said in a news release Wednesday.

Sixty-nine per cent agreed that more foreign competition will lead to lower air travel costs, with 12 per cent disagreeing.

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"For years we have been telling the federal government that consumers support greater competition for their travel dollar. We hope that this polling data gives those within government who support free markets and open competition the resolve they need to bring about real change in Canada's aviation market," said CAC president Bruce Cran.

Sixty-one per cent of the respondents agree that foreign airlines should be allowed to compete with Canadian carriers for their business, with 20 per cent opposed, according to the survey results.

And 77 per cent said they agree with the statement that allowing more foreign airlines into Canada will lead to enhanced travel options for consumers, with 10 per cent disagreeing.

"Canada has one of the most protected aviation markets in the world, with foreign carriers routinely denied the right to operate here. That is bad economic policy that harms consumers and protects dominant players in the market. Consumers want choice and competition for their travel dollar," said Mr. Cran.

Current federal policy protects vested interests to the detriment of consumers and Canada must adopt a sharply different approach to how the market works, he said.

The polling was conducted by Harris/Decima between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4, 2013 and involved telephone interviews with 1,015 Canadians.

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