Canada's airports today operate in a dynamic, fast growing and highly capital-intensive environment. Air traffic at Canada's airports was up 6.3 per cent last year with even stronger growth in overseas international markets. During the next 10 years, traffic is projected to increase by another 50 per cent or an additional 75 million passengers.

Some airports are having challenges meeting this demand due to federal policies. Below are a number of simple changes the Government of Canada can make to reduce costs, increase connectivity and improve service for travellers:

Security Screening

Passengers should be screened in 10 minutes, with no one waiting more than 20 minutes. The high Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) passengers pay should also be fully dedicated to cover CATSA’s mandate. Deploying existing and new technologies and processes, such as CATSA+, would also help to improve the flow of passengers while lowering operating costs.

Border Services

Canada Border Services Agency resources must be strengthened to support growing demand on service as well as continued innovation through technology, such as the Primary Inspection Kiosk.

Cost of Air Travel/Airport Rent

Reforms are needed to reduce the rent and taxes airports pay to the Government of Canada. Even though the federal government transferred ownership of most Canadian airports to local airport authorities 25 years ago, airports paid the government more than $5 billion in rent since 1992. Changes are needed to the rent formula to better incent revenue diversification and lower the cost of air travel.

Arrivals Duty Free

Arrivals Duty Free (ADF) is an important business for Canada's airports today, a $400 million sector, employing thousands of people and delivering $15 million in direct revenue to the federal government. Canadian airports today are only permitted to sell certain goods duty free to passengers at the time of their departure from Canada. Nearly 60 countries allow arriving international passengers to purchase duty free items, making it an amenity that international travellers increasingly expect to find at airports. ADF should be introduced in Canada to help Canadian duty free operators compete more effectively with their foreign counterparts.