Millions of Canadians Cross Border for Airfare Bargains

By Kristina Skorbach
Kristina Skorbach
Kristina Skorbach
Kristina Skorbach is a Canadian correspondent based in New York City covering entertainment news.
October 3, 2012 Updated: October 4, 2012

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada highlights what Canadians already know to be a fact: they love to go south of the border for cheaper flights.

The report estimates that over 5 million Canadians cross the border for a bargain deal on flight tickets.

“Cross-border airfare shopping is being driven by a ‘perfect storm’ of factors that also includes differences in wages, aircraft prices, and industry productivity as well as U.S. aviation policies,” says principal research associate of Transport and Infrastructure Vijay Gill.

These factors, however, save 30 percent on airfares for Canadian travellers, according to Gill, so reducing fees and taxes for Canadian airlines could be one approach, he says.

Airport fees and taxes account for 40 percent of airfare differences, the report said, noting that in Canada, airport fees and navigational systems are mostly paid by users. In the U.S., additional user fees may apply for certain services.

The survey mainly focused on Canada’s biggest international airports: Lester B Pearson in Toronto, Montreal-Trudeau, and YVR in Vancouver. All three seem to lose big to their southern competitors.

David Stewart-Patterson, vice president in public policy for the Conference Board, said the losses at these three airports are important because their role as international hubs is undermined.

“When a Canadian hub airport loses passengers, it can lead to reduced flight frequencies, higher travel costs, and poorer service for all Canadians,” he said.

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Kristina Skorbach
Kristina Skorbach
Kristina Skorbach is a Canadian correspondent based in New York City covering entertainment news.