The Yukon Party suspects the territorial government may be planning an airport improvement fee for air travellers to the territory.

The Yukon government introduced Bill 6 on Oct. 4. The Public Airports Act is designed to oversee the territory's airports.

The Yukon has had authority over the airports in Whitehorse and Watson Lake since 1996, when responsibility was transferred from the federal government.

On Tuesday in question period, Yukon Party house leader Scott Kent noted that one section of the draft legislation gives the government the ability to pass regulations for fees, rates and charges "for the use of public airports and for the use of services at public airports."

"Why would the Liberals give themselves the ability to create an airport tax or an airport improvement fee?" Kent asked.

An airport improvement fee is a common charge at most Canadian airports, however, Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn denied that will happen.

"This government has got no plans to introduce an airport improvement fee," he responded.

"Our Yukon Public Airports Act clarifies government's role and enables government to more readily respond to tenant requests to manage traffic flow through aviation facilities and to improve service at Yukon airports."

Updating legislation

Mostyn explained that the act would bring the territory up to date with legislation and regulations.

"The Yukon government is the only major airport operator in Canada without the legislative authority to manage activities on airport lands."

That response, though, didn't mollify Kent. 

"The act is very clear, it outlines that the government will be given the powers to bring in fees and charges for the use of public airports in the Yukon," Kent said.

"This raises the question, why do the Liberals want this power, unless they intend on using it, and will the minister amend the act, to rule out the implementation of airport improvement fees?" 

Mostyn didn't agree to that suggestion, instead repeating the government's intention to address a gap in legislation that other Yukon administrations haven't dealt with.

The bill is in first reading in the Yukon legislature.