RE: Airport Fees

Just received the May COPA Flight and was gratified to read on the front page your recent successes with Kitchener and Hamilton.

As you know from our long association, I have been in airport marketing since 1974, when Transport Canada hired an airline employed marketing grad. Only after did I learn that my mission was to raise rates. Well, I did raise rates successfully because I related changes to market value, not to cost recovery. I actually was having some success convincing the powers that be that prices are set by market value, not by cost, and if a company cannot make a profit at those prices, it should find another business. Then Finance branch won the policy fight and the result was the Air Ticket Tax. So much for spilt milk, but glad to see you are still fighting the good fight.

I would like to offer two further approaches for airport managers who actually appreciate the value of General Aviation.

Airports as a business are like shopping centres. They provide free parking (i.e. no landing fees) to facilitate getting traffic to come. Then the airport can make money from the traffic by offering value added services, that is, fuel, food, services, even secure parking.

What I would add today is that an airport manager needs to take a supply chain management approach.

Just like the mall owner makes money from the tenants, who pay the rent because the mall brings them traffic, the airport needs to look to its commercial tenants to make up revenue.

The airport is selling traffic, that is, market opportunities to the tenants providing services at the airport.

That is what justifies a fuel concession fee (much more efficient administratively than a landing fee), and similar fees based on the market value of the traffic the airport is providing to the service business.

It’s a win-win. We still pay, but at least we know we are getting some value for our money.


Ed. Thank you for your observations and recommendations for airport managers. I agree that value, rather than cost recovery, should drive the fees. COPA negotiated a fuel concession fee with Transport Canada (when they owned and operated many airports) in lieu of landing fees for our sector of aviation because this was a fair way to collect a fee for service rendered.

Our Guide to Public Airports [] discusses your supply chain approach to encourage airport managers to do whatever they can to attract traffic to their airport and in turn provide business for their tenants who in turn are willing and able to pay rent.



A 28 mph ground speed is a brisk pace for a bicycle. A garden variety bike, that is. A BMX or mountain bike will seldom if ever reach that kind of speed and never for very long. However, at 2,000 feet above ground, it’s practically a hover, and it feels a little strange.

It’s not quite as mind-bending as a Matrix phone call home, a time machine arrival at destination, or a Star Trek transporter trip down to the planet’s surface, but it is some sort of Transcendence, none the less.

The sensation of flying an open cockpit ultralight is close to the flying in dreams, clipping tree-tops with the toes of your sneakers. Could you ever hope to experience this while still bound to the rigid limitations of reality? Yes, and on occasion, that is exactly what you’re doing.

Oh sure, the racket and vibration of the (most likely) Rotax 2-stroke engine does offer a slightly different ambience than the dream flying, however the absolute difference is miniscule with all things considered.

You glide above the world, detached, observing. You, the aviator, are indeed no more a part of it than it is even aware of you.

Sometimes you look down and see a hawk or an eagle gliding, wings spread and held firm, looking for a little fast food.

Sometimes you look up and see the same bird, looking down at you.

And sometimes you glance directly over to your side and see the raptor not far off your wing tip, your eyes meet, and momentarily lock.

A million words and pictures from a thousand camera angles could only allude to what’s going on in the pilot’s mind.

To know it, you have to be it. And to be it, you have to train, you have to learn first-hand. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be up there with the birds, and others like you.

Maybe someday we’ll meet there. No words will be necessary.

Until then, we will await your arrival with the blue above and the green below.




I am seeking information regarding available Mogas that do not contain ethanol. I would like to compile a database of available brands across Canada that is suitable for an aviation Mogas STC.

The inclusion of ethanol in gasoline is both corrosive and destructive to an aircraft fuel system.

However ethanol free auto gas is an excellent fuel source for many low compression engines.

If you have a source for aviation Mogas please let us know. We will trace its origin and determine its complete distribution. The results will be made available to all COPA members.

PAUL HUNT Fort McMurray, AB



I often think of a kindness a chap once did for me when I was just starting out in the aeronautical business. It was February, 1960 and I had just received my Private Pilot License after successfully completing my flight test on skis. I was attending my first COPA convention that was being held at the Muskoka Sands Inn. It was at the banquet where I was seated with three other pilots who were obviously veterans, judging from the stories they were telling each other.

From their conversation I gleaned that two were airline captains and the other was a commercial pilot flying for a big company.

They were engrossed in their story telling and I was quite happy to keep quiet so I could learn from these experienced men. Between the three of them they must have had many thousands of hours on their collective logbooks judging from the stories they were relating.

Needless to say, I was being very quiet in their presence.

It must have been my quietude that attracted the attention of the pilot sitting beside me, for he turned to me and asked what I flew, as an ice breaker.

“I just recently took my flight test in a Piper J3 on skis.” I explained.

“On skis!” he said as his eyebrows went up. “Where did you take your training?” he asked.

“I learned to fly at Muskoka Airtrails on Vernon Lake near Huntsville. We flew J3s and Aeronca Champs on floats and skis,” I sheepishly replied.

He slapped the table and yelled at the two pilots sitting across from us to be heard above the conversational buzz. “Hey! You guys. This kid has something both of you don’t have!” They stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh yeah! What’s that?” My benefactor said with a roar, “This kid has a float endorsement!” At that moment I was accepted into the brotherhood of aviators and it made my day. I’ll never forget the kindness of that high time pilot who took the time to make me feel at home.

W. SMALL Minden Ont.