MASSE DEMANDS ‘TRUTH-IN-ADVERTISING’ FOR AIR TRAVELERS

APRIL 8, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NDP DEMANDS ‘TRUTH-IN-ADVERTISING’ FOR AIR TRAVELERS
(Question in Parliament Below)

OTTAWA – Today in the House of Commons NDP MP Brian Masse challenged the Conservative government to use its power to force airlines to advertise only the actual price of tickets.

“Ordinary Canadians are getting hosed. It’s not fair and we want real protection for airline travelers in Canada,” said Masse.

Masse suggested the current airline advertisements are gouging consumers, hiding fees and suckering unsuspecting travelers and he says the solution is already available to the government through legislation passed last year. The Minister of Transport has yet to use the authority granted to him to compel airlines to use “all-in-pricing” in advertising. Airlines in several other countries already advertise in this manner.

“Working families are sitting down to budget and plan for their summer vacations and flipping through the newspapers you would think there is a fire-sale on airline travel in Canada,” said Masse during Question Period in House of Commons. “That is, until travelers are confronted with a mountain of outrageous fees not listed in the enticing ads. Suddenly the planned vacation isn’t so affordable.

Masse suggests the government immediately implement the demands of the Travelers Protection Initiative along with a Passenger Bill of Rights to provide necessary transparency and accountability Canadians need.

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For more information:

Office of Brian Masse; 613-996-1541

The Travelers Protection Initiative (TPI) is a coalition of Canada’s consumer organizations and the travel industry. Please feel free to contact either of the sources below for more information on the Travelers Protection initiative:

Michael Janigan
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Phone: (613) 562-4002 x. 26

Christiane Théberge
President and Chief Executive Officer
Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA)
Phone: (613) 237-3657, x. 225

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Hansard on Air Travel Ticket Pricing – April 8, 2008

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, working families are sitting down to budget and plan for their summer vacations. Flipping through the newspaper ads, one would think there is a fire sale on air travel in Canada. However, that is not the case.

When travelers are confronted with a mountain of outrageous fees that are not advertised in the ads themselves, suddenly, the vacation is not so affordable.

Airlines are gouging customers, hiding fees and suckering unsuspecting customers.

Will the minister heed the advice of consumer groups and professional travelers and use the powers that he currently has to force airlines to advertise only the actual price?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): Mr. Speaker, of course this government has acted in that regard. We have brought in the Aeronautics Act, and in this case we have asked Parliament to support legislation that would oblige airlines to become public and to indicate the prices that are being charged.

I would encourage all consumers to go to the bottom of the spending that they will be making, in terms of purchasing any tickets that they wish they have, and to, as good consumers do, generally speaking, get all of the information.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this minister had eight months to protect consumers and has yet to do so.

CBC's Marketplace proved that Canadian customers are getting gouged by the airlines. Surcharges can actually run the ticket up another 50%. That is not fair, and we can stop the gouging. Canada's travel professionals and consumer groups have created the travel protection initiative and demand the minister use his current authority to ensure truth in advertising for the public. This action would provide the needed transparency and accountability that other people in other countries already get.

Why is the Minister of Transport grounded in his own fog while he is letting the airlines fly away with unfair profits on the backs of Canadians?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I will tell my hon. colleague, as well as I will tell the members of the House that we have put in place an open skies policy. That policy enables us to drive prices down in this country for the betterment of all consumers who decide to take an aircraft.