AFP - Canada will raise the maximum share groups of foreign investors may hold in its airlines from 25 percent to 49 percent in order to stimulate the industry, the transportation minister said Thursday.
The move would “set the conditions for lower fares and increased competition,” Marc Garneau said in a speech.
“This will lead to more options for Canadians and allow the creation of new, ultra-low cost airlines.”
The old cap would still apply to individual investors, however.
The consumer cost of travel within Canada is among the highest anywhere because of the country’s size. The world’s second-largest nation by territory, it spans 9,306 kilometers (5,780 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
The government plans to introduce legislation to bring about the change soon, Garneau said.
In the meantime, the former astronaut said he would grant exceptions to allow two upstarts -- Canada Jetlines, which has secured a European partner, and US-backed Enerjet -- to immediately seek out foreign investment. Both ultra-low cost airlines applauded the measures.
Canada currently has two national airlines -- Air Canada and Westjet, both profitable -- and a handful of regional carriers.
Garneau also promised measures aimed at boosting the quality of airline services, shortening airport security lines, reducing travel fees and clearly delineating minimum compensation for passengers’ missed flights and lost luggage.