The YHZ-YQY rip-off — rebuttal

Air Canada did not respond to Contrarian’s invitation to explain its price gouging on the Halifax-Sydney run, where it often costs more to get off in Halifax than to fly on to Toronto or St. John’s (original complaint here).

However, an Air Canada employee has argued forcefully that Sydney Airport (now called J. A. Douglas McCurdy Airport) “has extremely high fees and rents even for a Canadian Airport.”

I challenged my correspondent for specifics, and he responded:

I called the YQY airport and asked how much it cost to land an airplane. There does not seem to be anything published. [An employee] said it was $6.97 per 1,000 kgs. up to 20,000 kgs. and $8.80 per 1,000 after 20,000 kgs. Abbotsford, BC,  charges $2.82 per 1,000 kgs.*

Air Canada’s fees are governed by a contract, but I bet anything it cost three times what it would to land in YQY over any comparable airport.

A Dash 8 weights in the range of 15000 kgs, so if this logic follows it would add $100 per flight. [Not sure about my correspondent’s math. I make it about $900 more to land in Sydney than Abbotsford, or roughly $23 per round trip ticket at full capacity of 39 passengers. – PD]  The parking fees and terminal fees are also rumoured to be much higher. We also pay for the right to park equipment such as loaders, air-starters, and the like on the tarmac.

Airport rent has been discussed to death in other venues so I will not repeat what has been said, but it costs a fortune to keep offices in YQY.

If I buy a ticket from YQY, the Airport Improvement fee (AIF) is $28.75. From YHZ to YQY it’s $23.00.

Everything in YQY is more expensive than it is elsewhere at least on the surface. I toften hear scuttlebutt where staff says YQY is the
most expensive airport in Canada. Suffice to say that YQY is paying through the nose for year-round service. I know that when you fly the planes are full, but in the winter months the planes are just about vacant.

* My correspondent acknowledged the Sydney-Abbotsford comparison is not apples-to-apples, because Abbotsford adds on a per-seat charge, which Sydney does not. The writer was not authorized to speak for Air Canada, so I have not used his name.

I’d love to hear The Sydney Airport Authority’s rationale for its high prices, but none of this explains or excuses Air Canada’s screwy practice of charge less for a two- or three-leg flight to St. John’s or Toronto, and more for the first leg only.

Contrarian advises everyone flying between Halifax and Sydney to see if you can save money buy purchasing a longer flight but only using the YQY-YHZ portion.