LONDON – Back in March 2021, WestJet CEO Ed Sims was being interviewed by EUROCONTROL as part of the Aviation StraightTalk series, where an interesting topic came up about industry consolidation.
But this was not on the scale of airlines merging with each other, which he exemplified the merger between Air Canada and Air Transat, but more on the fact of airlines, airports, air traffic control and other facilities coming together as “it would be very helpful for the industry”.
This piece will look at whether this level of industry consolidation, which is seen in the U.S to bring down airport charges and enhance affordable flying, could work for Canada in order to support the industry, even during the tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work for the Better of All in the Industry
Sims stated that because of the conditions of the pandemic, that “there is an argument now to consolidate the foundations of the aviation industry to remove the boundaries between airlines, airports, air traffic control and actually say: how do we all have common objectives and how do we all have the game to encourage each other”.
This point was given on the basis that airlines are cutting costs through the increased use of outsourcing, but Sims argues that airlines need to be more involved in the process.
“It is my view that I think there should be a co-investment right across in a country like Canada, where we only have 36 million people in the country. Having that position of equity and therefore all of us working towards the greater good of the growth of Canadian aviation for me is more important than who writes the paycheck for the individual because that’s the key to supporting growth”.
Federal Government Needs to Encourage Industry Consolidation & Fairer Competition
The Canadian market directly supports 250,000 jobs in aviation with 750,000 indirectly. Sims is stating that focus is needed on the indirect jobs, as the collapse of the market has seen jobs lost as a result.