Canada proposes air travel security fee increase

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Canadian Transport Minister John Baird has proposed increasing air travellers security charges (ATSC) to fund airport security improvements despite objection from the aviation industry.

Pending parliament approval, ATSC rates will increase effective 1 April so the Canadian government can provide C$1.5 billion ($1.4 billion) over five years to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which provides travel security services at 89 Canadian airports.

Baird proposes fees starting at C$2.58 for one-way domestic flights, C$4.37 for transborder flights and C$8.91 for other international flights.

The increased fees are aimed at enabling CATSA to replace aging and obsolete technology and to invest in new screening equipment for passengers and baggage.

The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) are dismayed by the proposed increase in charges.

"Given the fragile state of the airline industry, we are disappointed that the federal government has chosen to substantially increase the Air Travellers Security Charge, thus placing the cost of what is fundamentally a matter of national concern onto passengers. We believe it is the government's responsibility to provide security to its citizens and to visitors to Canada," NACC president George Petsikas says in a statement.

In addition to the potential ATSC increase, the Canadian government will also begin a review of CATSA spending, efficiency and structure starting in March. The examination will determine if other models would better serve passengers and the aviation industry.

The Canadian parliament will return to session next week.