NAV Canada first proposed the fare increase in May to deal with the fallout from demand for flights from the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent revenue fallout and confirmed the changes would be made early August. WestJet said it was investigating an appeal regarding the fare increase.
In a statement, WestJet chief executive Ed Sims said he was concerned that any increase in fees could hamper the recovery in air travel demand, which could exacerbate both NAV Canada and its airline.
“We are deeply concerned that NAV Canada’s rate hikes will result in a further reduction in the number of travelers,” said Sims.
“We welcome their situation, like ours, where a lack of sector-specific federal support has hampered their ability to recover. Burdening travelers who have been severely affected by this pandemic with additional costs will only jeopardize Canada’s economic recovery.
WestJet has gradually stepped up service as COVID-19 cases in the country have eased, but its flight schedule last month was about 25% of the traffic it carried a year ago. WestJet said the recovery in demand for air travel is also being affected by what it described in early July as a “patchwork of domestic travel restrictions.”
The company and its peers also called for sectoral relief from the federal government to support the industry, a call echoed by the International Air Transport Association in a separate statement on Tuesday. In the statement, IATA chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said there had to be a balance between tackling the spread of the virus and not stifling a global economic recovery.
“It is time for governments to work together to implement measures that will allow economic and social life to resume, while controlling the spread of the virus,” he said.
“There is a lot at stake and no time to waste.”