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Federal Budget 2024 highlights hidden travel fees, airport infrastructure & passenger regulations



Federal Budget 2024 highlights hidden travel fees, airport infrastructure & passenger regulations

The Canadian government has released its new budget, and with it comes some changes for the travel industry.

The federal document, which proposes $52.9 billion in new spending over five years, touches on four key areas important to those who work in travel: the cost of air travel, air passenger regulations, improving airport infrastructure and funds for Indigenous tourism.

The budget states that “Canadians are paying extra fees over and above base prices, such as checked and carry-on baggage fees” and says it will crack down on junk fees.

It promises to amend “the Competition Act to strengthen protections against hidden prices” and, through Bill C-59, to put a stop to “drip pricing (when additional charges or fees affect consumers’ abilities to make informed decisions about prices) by strengthening prohibitions against the digital marketing of unattainable prices without the inclusion of mandatory fees.”

It goes on to say it will amend the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) this year to make sure there is transparency when airlines charge optional fees for things like seat selection, checked and carry-on baggage, meals on board, and in-flight entertainment.

“The government will do this by working with the Canadian Transportation Agency and airlines to ensure these fees are clearly laid out,” it says. “This will help Canadians select fares based on the full price of the travel options that best meet their needs.”

For Jeff Morrison, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), the assertion wasn’t quite accurate.

“Ancillary fees charged by airlines put greater choice and flexibility in the hands of passengers, and NACC members are transparent in this regard—we will need greater clarity on the intent of this announcement,” he said in a statement, where he also noted that the proposed investment in sustainable aviation fuel was necessary, as are investments in airport infrastructure.

Other amendments to the APPR will ensure children under 14 will be seated next to the adult they are travelling with at no extra cost.

Airports are also expected to see improvements to their infrastructure as their facilities have been included in the list of beneficiaries of a working group to “explore how to catalyze greater domestic investment opportunities for Canadian pension funds.”

“To support investments in airport facilities, the Minister of Transport will release a policy statement this summer that highlights existing flexibilities under the governance model for Canada’s National Airport System airports to attract capital, including from pension funds,” the budget notes.

The document also says the federal government is committed to economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities, and that it plans to provide support for the development of an Economic Reconciliation Framework and a National Benefits-Sharing Framework, which would include a $2.5 million investment in 2024-25 “to continue supporting the Indigenous tourism industry through the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada.”

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