Annual fees paid by Canada’s private pilots would go from a current $72 (Canadian) to up to $1,272, under a new proposal from Nav Canada that is vehemently opposed by the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). Daily fees would apply for the first time each day that an aircraft departs from any of the eight major airports in Canada: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. The fees would be in addition to the $72 annual fee now required, and would begin to phase in next September, with hikes each year through 2008. Nav Canada is under pressure from the airlines to make private aviators pay more, COPA says.
Although it might seem that most smaller aircraft don’t often depart from those busy airports anyway, COPA warns that it is the first step on a slippery slope. “It is clear from other countries where pay-as-you-go is in place that the impact on private aviation is severe and largely responsible for its decline,” COPA said in a statement last week. “COPA is committed to not let that happen here.” COPA says the new proposal would violate laws that mandate fees must not discourage pilots from flying safely and that charges for recreational and private aircraft must not be unreasonable. COPA says that rather than rate hikes, Nav Canada should be reducing the annual fee, considering the cuts in service that have already been made. Even more such cuts in service are coming, such as replacing contract weather services with AWOS. COPA said it is continuing to negotiate with Nav Canada to change the proposal, and is soliciting support from the pilot community. Pilots in Canada can send comments to Nav Canada until Feb. 10.
Nav Canada says in its proposal that it “seems fair and reasonable” that even small aircraft, if they want to use the busiest airports, should pay an additional charge. The charge would also serve as an incentive for small aircraft to use reliever airports instead. Nav Canada said in a news release that its aim is to better balance the charges between large and small aircraft, better reflect the impact of new technology and better absorb the financial impact of fluctuations in air traffic. The proposed changes would be revenue-neutral overall. Nav Canada acknowledges that views within the aviation community differ widely on the issue of charges for general aviation. “Many commercial operators believe that the charges should be substantially increased, while private aircraft operators either supported the status quo or argued for decreased fees,” the proposal says.
Editor’s Note: This is an example of what can happen when a government goes forward with a bad plan. Users fees are not a viable solution for the United States. We already pay fees as we fly, what do not need is another self-perpetuating government bureaucracy.