I grew up in the Nord-du-Québec. For his work, my father had to regularly make roundtrips to Montreal for business. He first had to drive for two hours on a lonely road, and then take the plane from Val-d’or.
I tell this story so that everyone understands how some of our areas are remote… really remote.
It is difficult to do business or to attract tourism without air links on a regular basis.
That by ceasing its regional routes, Air Canada has contributed to asphyxiate it economically.
Of essential services ?
Since the withdrawal of Air Canada in several of our regions, municipalities, chambers of commerce and tourism associations are studying the idea of using our taxes to fund regional flights.
For it to be justified to get out the checkbook of the taxpayer, the regional flights need to be essential services. So, what is it ? The following example, which has gone on for years, should contribute to this reflection.
Did you know that the indigenous villages of the Ungava bay, in the Nord-du-Québec, are not connected to the rest of Quebec by road ? It is absolutely necessary to take the plane to get there ?
However, it is found that these areas are full of scenery enchanting. They have a tourist potential to be interesting for these northern communities. For example, the parc national des Pingualuit is one of our treasures and best-kept secrets.
To go there, you must first go through Kangiqsujuaq or Kuujuaq. The round-trip costs between 1000 $ and 3000 $… A price that even the mp corner does not dare to pay. It is expected that the government plane was to go there to go there to see. I note here that no air carrier of the State came to the rescue of the Inuit.
A Crown corporation ?
In the Gaspé peninsula, a crisis unit has just been established to study alternatives to Air Canada. According to the mayor of Gaspé, leave the laws of the market would make the region dependent on a single company.
The mayor was right. The regional flights are what is called a ” natural monopoly “. A situation where only one company can survive, because the fixed costs of operation are high and the market is small. The region has two other choices : ask for a Crown corporation… In such a case, would offer the flights at prices that reflect the costs or subventionnerions-us operations ? The second option is to adopt a more co-operative.
Imitate to the aboriginal nations
To get rid of Air Canada, the regions would have to take an interest for aboriginal initiatives. Several communities have managed to organize to get rid of the major carriers.
Air Inuit was founded in 1978. She has received several grants, including for the modernization of its facilities under the Plan Nord. It receives government contracts. But it remains a private company… and its planes roam currently the heavens.
The Crees have their own airline. Air Creebec is said to have kidneys strong enough to ensure a link between Montréal and Val-d’or in the month of August, at prices similar to those of Air Canada.
Which leads me to ask the following question : when is Air the Gaspé peninsula belonging to the community ?
Jean-Denis Garon is a professor at ESG-UQAM