A marketing campaign just south of the border is luring Ottawa airplane passengers to an airport in New York state for cheaper flights.


U.S. competition accounts for a loss of about five million passengers in Canada each year, according to the Canadian Airports Council. (CBC)

Cape Air flies out of Ogdensburg, N.Y., to Albany, N.Y. and Boston, Mass., at a fraction of the cost of flying out of Ottawa's airport. The airline is able to keep prices low because of U.S. federal subsidies and lower gas costs.

Each year, the Canadian Airports Council estimates Canadian airports lose about five million passengers to nearby U.S. markets.

"We really need to start thinking of this as more than just an aviation problem," council president Daniel-Robert Gooch told CBC News. "It's an economic problem for Canada, and it's something that we really need to address.

"It's enough of a concern that we actually had a national event last month in Toronto to explore the issue and understand it better. This is something that's been increasing every year for the last decade."

Ottawa advertising campaign increased business

Cape Air's marketing manager Jacqueline Donohoo said a recent ad campaign directed at Ottawans is increasing their business. The airport in Ogdensburg is less than an hour's drive from downtown Ottawa, and it offers free parking.

"Just the month alone in March, we carried over 60 per cent more passengers than we did the previous year, which we attribute to our marketing in the Canada area," Donohoo said.


Daniel-Robert Gooch says U.S. competition accounts for a loss of about five million passengers in Canada each year. (CBC)

Steven Hick of Ottawa was on his way to Boston last week and he chose the Ogdensburg airport to get him there.

"Cheaper, easier, free parking — I couldn't resist the $99 fare," Hick said.

Gooch added Canada's airports are funded more by customers than by public taxpayer dollars, which would not slow down the trend of heading south to fly.

The airport in Ogdensburg also just approved a $17-million expansion plan to prepare for more passengers.