Stephenville mayor wants investigation into high airfare cost in N.L.
Tom Rose says sky-high prices bad for the economy
After paying a high price to travel from Stephenville to St. John's Monday for a medical appointment, Tom Rose is speaking out about the need for a public inquiry into the high cost of air travel within the province.
"I booked it in advance and it's closing in on $900 and I'm saying, 'This is wrong. There's something fundamentally wrong with that price point,'" said Rose, who is mayor of the town of Stephenville on Newfoundland's west coast.
He said it is often cheaper to fly to destinations off the island than it is for a flight within the province. As a result, he said, fewer people travel, for both business and tourism.
Surprise for tourists
"If you have somebody who flew into Stephenville from Toronto with Sunwing or Porter, or they flew into St. John's with Air Canada from Europe, and then they said, maybe I'll see other parts of the island, I'll jump on a flight and go to St. Anthony, or Goose Bay or Stephenville ... the prices are so high it would almost knock them off their feet," he told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning.
Rose said in other parts of the country and Europe, short flights can go for less than a couple of hundred dollars.
"But here the price points going to Labrador could be 13, 14 15-hundred dollars."
Rose said many people don't have time or inclination to drive the long distances between destinations, especially in unpredictable winter weather. And those travelling for medical appointments often have to go alone because it's too expensive for a companion to join them.
More affordable airline travel would be a boost for the province's economy, he said, because more people would travel, and spend the money they saved on the airline ticket at local businesses.
And while Rose understands airlines are concerned about profit margins, he said it's time for the goverment to hold an inquiry to try to come up with solutions.
"At the end of the day, when our costs get too out of control and it slows people down — whether it's business, tourism, leisure, medical reasons, whatever — it has a negative impact on commerce and that's not good for the province."
Rose said his first step is to set up a meeting with Transportation Minister Steve Crocker.