Don’t blame the Town for the greed of big airliners

It’s easy (but wrong) to scapegoat Smithers Regional Airport for high ticket prices

Don’t blame the Town for the greed of big airliners

I hate flying. I don’t have a phobia or anything, I just really dislike everything about planes. The cramped spaces. The crying babies.

The ridiculously small bags of peanuts which I have to awkwardly ask the flight attendant for seconds (not so bad), thirds (getting there) and fourths (yikes) of.

Last (but definitely not least) is the cost.

I could write an entire column about how greedy it is that an industry manipulates its prices around family-centric holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving (or how sad it is money remains the largest barrier to family members who live far away seeing each other over the holidays).

It doesn’t change the fact the high prices we pay to fly out of Smithers have nothing to do with the Town, as I’ve seen many people suggesting on social media.

True, the Town recently raised its airport improvement fee (AIF) from $25 to $30 after a report to council suggested without the change Smithers Regional Airport (YYD) operations would eat into the YYD’s surplus fund.

LAST WEEK TREV THOUGHTS: Why putting limits on halloween candy isn’t such a sweet idea

But while YYD’s AIF is something the airport actually sets, when it comes to actual airfare, YYD has about as much say regarding how much tickets cost as you do over how much Tim Hortons charges for your daily double-double.

I get it, you’re mad — I am too — but it’s important to get mad at the right people: in this case, Air Canada.

Say you’re selling something: could be lemonade, could be candy, could be furniture. If you are the only lemonade maker in town, you can charge more than if there are three lemonade makers on every street because people who want lemonade know you’re the only one who makes it. In essence, the price you set is the price people have to pay.

That crash course into free market economics is highly simplified, however, the same runs true with air travel. When YYD only has one truly cross-country airline running out of their location, that same airline gets to call the shots (and, more importantly, set the prices).

All you have to do is look at the numbers. Comparing Nov. 7 prices on the evening of Nov. 6, it costs $1,079 to fly to Vancouver from Smithers and return on the same day.

Not only is that same two-way ticket cheaper in Terrace ($832, $848 and $850 are the cheapest prices listed), there’s also much more selection regarding when your flight leaves and returns.

Again, there is no massive conspiracy on the part of YYD to keep prices high. They have absolutely zero control over how much Air Canada decides to charge for tickets.

Let’s also not ignore the elephant in the room: WestJet. You’d have to assume that WestJet knows if it were to come into YYD and start offering flights that Air Canada would drop it’s prices, which begs the question: why haven’t they yet?

I expect it boils down to the same topic of this column: costs.

I might be wrong, but I expect WestJet has run the numbers and decided the amount of money they make operating out of just Terrace and not Smithers — with the knowledge that because prices in the former are so much cheaper, residents of the latter will make their way out there — provides them with more revenue than they would make if they also operated out of Smithers and had to deal with the additional overhead costs.

Think about it this way, the conventional frugal wisdom in the Bulkley Valley is already to go to Terrace if you want to fly more economically. With that in mind, what motivation does WestJet have to set up shop in Smithers when they’re already getting their clientele despite not paying YYD landing and terminal fees?

Answer: about as much as Air Canada has to lower their prices at YYD when there are no other (fully) cross-country carriers running out of it.

MORE TREV THOUGHTS: Not everything is about racism

So this Christmas when you’re grumbling over the extra $200 you paid to fly out of YYD (or the time and money it took you to get to Terrace just to save a few bucks) remember getting mad at YYD or the Town is exactly what the big airliners want you to do.

But we shouldn’t let it fly anymore.



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Hydro-Electric turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam week of Jan. 10 to 14

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read