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Why your airfare may be getting more expensive

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Canadians are feeling the squeeze as airfare prices skyrocket, at a time when the airline industry is in Ottawa’s hot seat.


According to the CAA, increased airfare prices are linked to heightened competition and rising food and fuel. 


Recently, one airline quietly added a new fee for travellers who booked its lowest fares – seat selection – but walked it back following criticism from customers.


While that fee was dropped, and some fares are actually down, additional costs such as those for baggage and better seats, mean that even if the flight itself costs less, Canadians are often paying more. 


Frustrations prevent plans


For some travellers, costs are so high that they’re relying on last-minute deals, and missing out if they can’t find anything.


A Halifax couple recounted to CTV National News Paul Hollingsworth that they had all but given up travelling because of the costs when they stumbled upon a “smoking good deal.”


Travellers are also grappling with frustrations around lengthy delays, with one traveller saying two to three hours can be “crushing.”


Data published last week showed air travel complaints in Canada hit a record high, with the Canadian Transportation Agency facing a backlog of more than 71,000, with approximately 43,550 complaints filed last year alone.


Airlines under scrutiny


In addition to criticism from travellers, airline executives find themselves under the scrutiny of a House of Commons committee.


Airlines like Lynx Air, which filed for protection from its creditors, and Air Canada, which reported an $81-million loss in its first quarter, are among the Canadian companies struggling to balance economic viability with the need to address the issues faced by travellers.  


Mechanisms like Air Passenger Bill of Rights are meant to address the growing call for accountability, CAA’s Julia Kent said.


“(It’s) what we want to see executed,” she said, adding there are hopes for changes to the bill.


Despite the challenges, there are signs of recovery in the tourism industry as pandemic travel restrictions ease, with 2023 seeing a return to about 85 per cent of pre-pandemic activity, a spokesperson for Halifax Stanfield International Airport said.


More activity is expected in coming months with several airlines and flights slated to return, they added.

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