The head of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents (ACTA), David McCaig has come out swinging against Transport Canada’s announced increase in air security fees to pay for more body scanners and gate guards. McCaig says the decision “shows how little the government cares about consumers, businesses or travel” and he is calling on the government to consult with the travel industry instead of trying to nibble it to death with what he terms ‘taxes.’
The ACTA President and COO says that more than 2,000 travel agencies and 18,000 travel agents along with millions of Canadian consumers will be forced to pay more and more money for security measures placed at Canadian airports. He said he is worried that an increase in the air traveller security charge announced by Transport Minister John Baird last week is just the start of a round of industry-targeted taxes disguised as more politically palatable ‘fees’.
Mr. McCaig said any extra security costs should be paid out of the government’s general revenues and not added onto a single industry. ‘Air safety is just one part of what should be a comprehensive national security plan paid for by all taxpayers out of general funds.’
‘I don’t think the government has done any hard research to determine the best way of combining security with efficiency and the comfort of passengers,’ he said.
On April 1st, the air security fees will rise by $8.91 per flight on top of the current $5 to $16 per passenger each way. This means an international traveller will pay more than $50 in security charges on two way flights. ‘This is on top of a long list of taxes, fees, charges and surcharges that governments impose on air travel.’
‘This is the way to kill a business,’ Mr. McCaig said. ‘Government is nibbling to death one of Canada’s vital and best industries while hurting every family that wants to take a vacation, every student who wants to go to school away from home and every business traveller trying to feed his or her family.’
Mr. McCaig said federal cabinet ministers are ‘flat out wrong when they say airlines are in good fiscal positions and that the airline security fee is not a tax. Travel agencies are worried about constantly rising prices and a barrage of extra fees and taxes that make air travel, especially, too expensive for many families. This is a tax that will go up and up and on and on long after the body scanners are bought and paid for,’ Mr. McCaig added.
‘Cabinet ministers fund their pet projects out of general revenues but load things they don’t understand onto the backs of consumers and businesses. They aren’t kidding anyone but themselves,’ Mr. McCaig said.