THE INTERNATIONAL Air Transport Association (IATA) has condemned what it calls unfair and discriminatory overflight charges, to be introduced by Transport Canada in November. Transport Canada is trying to recover two-thirds, or C$165 million ($120 million), of the total annual cost of C$250 million in just one year.

The plan by the government agency, which has not previously charged airlines for overflying its territory, is part of a move to provide finance for a new private corporation - NavCan - due to handle all air-traffic control from April 1996, and to cut the Government's enormous budget deficits. The Government is also withdrawing from the operation of its major airports.

IATA's objections are not directly related to the principle of overflight charges, but to the manner of their proposed introduction. The association, numbering over 200 of the world's international airlines, lists four main points of dissatisfaction: discrimination, timing, speed of introduction and lack of transparency about NavCan.

The new charges affect only international airlines, and Canadian airlines flying international services. They are not being applied to airlines which fly between Canada and the USA, domestic airlines and non-commercial operations. This effectively discriminates against its members, IATA complains.

As an example, Far Eastern airlines flying over the great circle route and spending perhaps 4,000km (2,200nm) in Canadian airspace, would be charged $6,000 per aircraft, says IATA.

Canada's move could be followed by the USA, if a Federal Aviation Administration reform Bill being drafted in the Senate is adopted.

Source: Flight International