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Air transport | More bad news for the regions

The regions are not at the end of their troubles. Air Canada is reducing its services in Abitibi-Témiscamingue just two weeks after the announcement of $500 tickets by the Legault government. The round trip between Montreal and Rouyn-Noranda in one day is no longer possible, to the chagrin of business people.

Posted at 11:00 a.m.

Julien Arsenault

Julien Arsenault
The Press

Andre Dubuc

Andre Dubuc
The Press

“We will arrive in Montreal in the middle of the afternoon, deplores Éric Beaupré, president and CEO of Technosub, based in Rouyn-Noranda. It’s wasted time. For business people, this is critical. We’ll be gone another day. »

The leader of the specialist in pumping solutions for the industrial and mining sectors is a regular on business trips to the United States and the rest of Canada. The air service has deteriorated so badly that he opts for the airport in Timmins, Ontario, when he does not have to go through Montreal.

In force since 1er May, the change decreed by Air Canada means that a traveler who flies from Montreal to Rouyn-Noranda would have 30 minutes once at destination if he wishes to return home the same day. The reverse is also true. Previously, a flight from Abitibi-Témiscamingue was offered at dawn with a return late in the evening.

Mr. Beaupré finds it hard to understand the decision of the largest air carrier in the country when several economic indicators for Abitibi-Témiscamingue were pointing in the right direction. At the end of the line, the mayor of the municipality located in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Diane Dallaire, hardly hides her dissatisfaction with Air Canada.

If I have a $500 ticket, but there is not the quality of service that goes with it, we lose the confidence of users.

Diane Dallaire, Mayor of Rouyn-Noranda

“For business people, this doesn’t meet the needs at all,” she says. The City is not happy. That means leaving on Monday and coming back on Wednesday, that makes no sense. »

No options

Air Canada was the last airline to offer daily round trips to the region. According to Mme Dallaire, meetings with the company are scheduled over the “coming weeks”. Whether service will be restored remains to be seen.

“We would have liked to be consulted upstream and not afterwards,” said the mayor.

In an email, Air Canada simply said “taking note of the comments” and that it continues to “assess [sa] planning “. According to the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Rouyn-Noranda, David Lecours, business people represent approximately 65% ​​of the volume of the link. In an interview, he did not hide his dissatisfaction with the turn of events, which will have a negative impact on the members of the Chamber.

For aviation expert and lecturer at McGill University John Gradek, the case of Rouyn-Noranda bears witness to the limits of the plan presented by the Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, on April 19. Companies and organizations are not eligible for subsidized tickets.

The $500 seats are mainly to promote tourism rather than to provide adequate service to the inhabitants of the regions. It is not a long-term plan to ensure adequate regional service.

John Gradek, aviation expert and lecturer at McGill University

Eventually, Quebec will have to resign itself to financing certain routes through calls for tenders – a model where the operating license is entrusted to a carrier for a few years – to ensure adequate service in certain regions, believes Mr. .Gradek. Some municipalities, such as Gaspé and Baie-Comeau, argued in favor of this mechanism when the Legault government was preparing its strategy.

Other tools for Quebec

Claudia Loupret, Mr. Bonnardel’s press secretary, did not comment directly on the schedule adjustment decreed by Air Canada. In an email, she pointed out that demand was “currently very low” for several destinations.

In the event that a region is not adequately served in the future by a single carrier, we may call for tenders to increase service.

Claudia Loupret, press attaché to the Minister of Transport

This tool is one of the five measures of the Québec Regional Air Transport Plan. It had passed under the radar since the $500 tickets subsidized by Quebec always monopolize the attention. No market has yet been targeted to entrust the operating license to a carrier.

The Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ), the Quebec municipal lobby which has been campaigning for years for government intervention, did not want to react to Air Canada’s decision.

Learn more

  • 234
    Number of millions that have been set aside, over five years, by the Legault government to revive regional air transport.

    source: government of quebec

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