WestJet boosts fees after Nav Canada rate hike, may appeal increase
CEO says higher fee will result in even fewer fliers and undermine economic recovery
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 and will scrap the surcharge if the move is successful.
CEO Ed Sims says WestJet is sympathetic to Nav Canada's situation, "where a lack of sector-specific federal support" has aggravated concerns over plummeting passenger numbers, but that the higher fee will result in even fewer fliers and undermine economic recovery.
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 hike at Nav Canada will hit travellers trying to visit friends and family the hardest, as business travel has largely dried up.