Lower fees, more fees
In the same breathe Nav Canada announced it is lowering its service fees it also announced a daily fee aimed at the fledgling Very Light Jet (VLJ) owners starting next year.
In a July 12, press release Nav Canada announced it will be proceeding with reductions in its customer service charges totalling four per cent effective Aug. 1, 2007. This will include a three per cent reduction already announced earlier this year that will come into effect one month ahead of the original proposed date of September 1.
In addition, Nav Canada has decided to add a temporary one per cent reduction for the period Aug. 1, 2007 to Aug. 31, 2008.
What this means to personal aviation aircraft owners is your annual service fee will be $68 plus GST when you invoices arrive next year, provided you are not regularly flying out of one of the seven Canadian airports which will be charging a daily departure fee starting in March 2008.
On the other side of the coin Nav Canada is introducing a fee for VLJs. Nav Canada said it will be extending its daily and movement-based charges to jet aircraft weighing three tonnes or less, effective March 1, 2008.
These changes are in recognition of the entry of jet aircraft into lower weight categories originally occupied by propeller aircraft.
COPA sees this as being another, good news, bad news scenario. While we will see our annual fee reduced temporarily to $68 plus GST from March 2008 to March 2009, the new VLJ fee is another unreasonable cash cow.
COPA's Board decided not to appeal the new jet fee when it was first announced earlier this year, but we are opposed to the fees because private pilots flying these aircraft for personal use (BD5-J, D-Jet etc.) will now be charged under the same complicated fee structure commercial airlines are currently charged.
Recreationally flown aircraft to this point have been treated differently from other aircraft in recognition of the nature of their operation and the inability of their owners to pass on costs to paying passengers.
Some of the smaller aircraft captured by this new fee will be single-engine and fly for purely recreational purposes. It is unreasonable to treat these owners and operators like commercial operators.
"Performance limitations of some of these aircraft, especially those that are single-engine, will result in cruising altitudes below FL300; airspace that is underutilized," COPA President Kevin Psutka wrote in his June column.
"These aircraft will not interfere with other higher cruising aircraft and yet they will be, in effect, penalized for using this underutilized airspace. This is unreasonable."
Details of Nav Canada's revised service charges are available at www.navcanada.ca.