Rich Gage, president of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), told AIN that the new fee structure Nav Canada announced last month will “not have a big impact, one way or another” on business aircraft operators.
The new charges represent minor adjustments in the scale of fees announced, but then subsequently withdrawn, by Canada’s privatized air navigation service provider last December. Nav Canada assesses fees using the internationally adopted weight yardstick rather than the “one radar blip equals any other radar blip” philosophy the Air Transport Association advocates for user fees in the U.S.
The Canadians charge a Boeing 747 significantly more than, say, a Citation. Also, in the current and previous fee scales the Boeing 737 and BBJ have been designated “mid-weight” aircraft, the fees for which remain essentially the same. To bring fees closer into line with average international charges, heavier aircraft have seen slight reductions while the fees for lighter aircraft have increased slightly but proportionally.
For example, assume–for argument’s sake–that a 747 is 10 times heavier than a small Learjet. If Nav Canada reduces the 747 charge by $100, each Learjet would pay $10 more. Similarly, airplanes half the weight of the 747–but heavier than the mid-weight 737/BBJ–will pay $50 less. In the same example, a bizjet twice as heavy as the small Learjet will pay $20 more in fees.
Gage pointed out, however, that CBAA members have accepted this as a cost of doing business since Nav Canada’s establishment more than 10 years ago, and fees have certainly not dampened corporate aviation growth.
Nevertheless, Gage has some longer-term concerns about Nav Canada’s imposition of a daily C$10 fee for the use of Canada’s seven major airports by small general aviation aircraft. While noting that this rule would have little effect on CBAA members, he felt that the principle of airport-specific user charges imposed by Nav Canada, rather than by individual airport operators, was questionable and, with perhaps the exception of Toronto/Pearson, hard to justify in terms of its effect on current traffic densities at Canada’s six other large commercial airports.