Vancouver International Airport has undergone a series of upgrades over the years and consistently wows visiting tourists. But plenty of locals are willing to drive across the border to get a better deal.

Cheaper U.S. flights lure cross-border fliers

Study pegs air fare differential at about 30 per cent

Flights out of U.S. airports like Bellingham are about 30 per cent cheaper than in Canada due to a combination of higher costs, taxes and fees north of the border.

That’s one of the findings in a new report by the Conference Board of Canada that analyzes the reasons behind the price gap.

Report author Vijay Gill estimates five million Canadians cross the U.S. border each year to catch cheaper flights and many are customers that airports like Vancouver International are losing to American rivals.

There’s no single reason behind the price gap, but Gill concluded some of the biggest factors are lower leasing and depreciation costs for U.S. carriers, much lower airport landing and terminal fees, and generally lower fuel costs.

Navigational fees account for another chunk, because Nav Canada is fully funded by fees, while U.S. authorities partly subsidize those costs.

There are also more discount carriers in the U.S. that pay lower wages than Canadian carriers and compete aggressively on price.

Canadian fees and taxes add up to roughly 40 per cent of the total air fare difference between the U.S. and Canadian airports Gill examined.

The report suggests a cut to fees charged in Canada could win back some of the cross-border fliers.

Transport Canada said in a statement the user-pay model here is designed to ensure other taxpayers don’t subsidize air flights, as happens in the U.S.

Vancouver International Airport this year jacked its Airport Improvement Fee from $15 to $20 for flights out of B.C. to fund a planned $1.8 billion in upgrades over the next decade.

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

Just Posted

Fraser Valley couple wins $500K after finding scratch-and-win while moving

  • Robert Walters and Lois Gueret of Agassiz win half a million from Scratch & Win ticket

High-risk sex offender living in Chilliwack back in court

Former mayor and residents wanted James Conway gone from residential neighbourhood two years ago

Court orders Hope-area First Nation council to accept long-contested memberships

Federal judge rules Peters Band Council acted “irrationally, unreasonably” in rejecting applications

KAAC won’t back Kent’s Teacup properties plans

Public consultation meeting is on March 10 at District Hall

Students in the Fraser East work hard, need more mental health support

McCreary Centre releases stats from 2018 that show trends among students

VIDEO: Feds warned agricultural sector near ‘tipping point’ due to blockades

Canadian Federation of Agriculture points to lack of propane and feed due to Coastal GasLink dispute

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

B.C. Liberals call for assistance on soaring strata insurance rates

NDP’s Carole James says problem is across the country

Most Read