Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications
Issue 11 - Evidence, October 17, 2012
OTTAWA, Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications met this
day at 6:45 p.m. to study emerging issues related to the Canadian airline
industry. (topic: Focus on Northern and regional issues.)
Senator Dennis Dawson (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I call this meeting of the
Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications to order.
This evening we are continuing our study on the Canadian airline
industry. In the coming weeks, the committee will focus on northern and
Appearing before us today is Mr. Stephen Nourse, Executive Director of
the Northern Air Transportation Association.
Senators, we will have a short in camera meeting after the committee
adjourns to talk about further proceedings.
Mr. Nourse, thank you for taking the time to talk to us; please proceed.
Stephen Nourse, Executive Director, Northern Air Transport
Association: I thank the committee for the opportunity to address
northern transportation issues. I would like to introduce the Northern Air
Transport Association, or NATA for short, and tell you what it is and what
it stands for.
NATA was formed 36 years ago by like-minded commercial air carriers
operating north of the 60th parallel of latitude. Since then, we have grown
to represent 37 commercial air carriers both above and below the 60th
parallel, all of which have significant operations in the northern and more
remote regions of Canada. We also have about 40 associate members who,
although not air carriers, have interest in northern aviation.
Our carriers run the gamut from large scheduled jet carriers, such as
First Air, Canadian North, Air North, Yukon's Airline, and Air Inuit, to
small mom-and-pop operations and everything in-between. We have in our ranks
a number of rotary wing operators as well. The common link between all of
them is that they face similar challenges: operating either within or into
the northern and remote regions of Canada; operating into remote airfields
with limited weather, navigation aids, fuel and other infrastructure; having
to deal with climatic extremes; and having to deal with processes and
regulations designed for major international carriers and not necessarily
appropriate for their operating environment.
Many of them are the sole lifeline into remote communities, a good number
of which are Aboriginal. In many of these locations, our members provide the
only year-round transportation. In some areas, they are the only
transportation link, period. We are the local bus, the grocery truck and the
ambulance. In these locations, aviation is not a luxury used for escaping to
sunny climes or the purveyor of the high roller; it is quite simply a
As a note, the only provinces where we do not have representation are
P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and that is for obvious reasons.
The North matters to Canada. It is becoming increasingly important in
sovereignty, resource and other economic aspects. With limited roads, or in
many cases no roads, these economic opportunities are highly dependent on a
robust air transportation network.
What are the challenges facing northern air carriers? The obvious one
that comes to mind is weather, but not necessarily for the reasons you are
thinking of. Certainly, there is a lot of cold and blowing snow, but let us
remember that this is Canada. We just have a bit more of it than most of
you. Over the years, we have developed modifications, facilities and
procedures to deal with it. The real problem is not enough of it or, rather,
not enough information about it.
In some respects, there is almost less weather information available now
than there used to be. Over the years, for budgetary reasons, Arctic weather
stations have been shut down, upper air monitoring has been cut back, and
many airports have only limited hours of CARS — Community Aerodrome Radio
Station — operations. The situation is particularly noticeable at night and
affects us in a number of ways. With limited data getting to the climatic
modeling computers, especially at night, the overall forecast accuracy is
degraded. There are problems getting weather information for emergency
flights during the night. There are delays in morning scheduled departures
and sometimes cancellations as we do not have enough information for them to
produce a terminal forecast necessary for Instrument Flight Rules, IFR,
departures. The situation is exasperated in the locations relying on manual
observations by the CARS operators, most of which are very good but, in some
locations, the level of service and reliability can be problematic.
What is the solution? We feel it is in the increased installations of
Automated Weather Observation Systems, or AWOS, which provide 24-hour
coverage. We are pleased that NAV CANADA in conjunction with the Government
of Nunavut is expanding the AWOS coverage there, but there remains much of
the Northwest Territories and Nunavik with poor coverage.
What is holding up the expansion of AWOS services? Simply put, money.
Each installation can run somewhere between $500,000 to $1 million,
depending on where it is physically going. The sad thing here is that when
you talk to the various territorial health service providers, they say that
they alone easily spend more than that in a year in increased costs due to
missed and cancelled medical appointments, the problem, of course, being the
age-old one of budgets coming out of different pots.
Another challenge is the lack of paved runways. In all three territories
combined, there are only 10 paved runways: the three territorial capitals —
Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit — plus another one in the Yukon, four in
the Northwest Territories, and one in Nunavut. Similarly, in the Nunavik
region of Quebec, only Kuujjuaq is paved.
Let us contrast that with the state of Alaska, which, despite having a
far smaller geographical area, has 61 paved runways. The lack of paved
runways means that northern operators are stuck with older aircraft. There
has not been a new large commercial jet aircraft certified for landing on
gravel for over 30 years. Older means a number of things: increased
maintenance costs, lower customer appeal, higher fuel burn, and more
greenhouse gas emissions.
Without more pavement in the North, service will eventually degrade. It
will be impossible to keep the older jet aircraft financially viable
forever, and routes will have to be downgraded to turboprops. Given the
stage lengths in the North and the volumes moved, not only will this degrade
service, but it will increase the cost of service.
While northern airports can boast about being some of the most scenic in
the world, a good number of the northern strips are also short, 1,200 metres
or less. They were perfectly fine when they were initially built and the
design aircraft was the DC-3. However, in today's world, this significantly
limits the availability of newer aircraft types that can properly serve
these airports, particularly post-December 21, 2010, when new performance
regulations took effect regarding scheduled services. Most of the
new-generation aircraft suitable for smaller markets need 1,520 metres as a
To further exacerbate this problem, we have proposed legislation that has
the potential to limit or even reduce the available runway length in many
northern airports as a means of accommodating Runway End Safety Area, or
RESA, requirements. This is by no means just an issue in the three
territories. Airports in northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec
and Labrador are all in this very same situation. One has to keep in mind
that many of these strips have physical barriers to extension, and the cost
of construction in many instances is an order of magnitude higher than in
the south, as equipment and resources must be brought in to do the work. You
may remember my earlier statement about no year-round access other than air.
Other airport infrastructure-related challenges faced at many northern
airports are restrictions due to unavailability of fuel in the communities;
vandalism, not only to the airport infrastructure but to the aircraft parked
overnight in the communities, which has both a cost and a safety concern;
lack of adequate lighting; and lack of sufficient Internet bandwidth for
A big part of the issue is that, if you add up the combined populations
of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, you come up with just under
112,000 souls, or roughly the size of a mid-sized city such as Kingston,
Ontario. The reality is that for this small a population, there simply is
not the tax base for large infrastructure projects. Federal contribution is
absolutely necessary. If the government is truly committed to the Arctic and
its sovereignty, as they state, then they have to pony up to the bar.
The territories have done a commendable job in maintaining the airports
transferred to them. They simply lack the access to capital under the
existing programs to improve them.
The regulatory burden on all air carriers continues to increase. Mind
you, not all of it comes from Transport Canada or other federal departments.
The provinces, territories and local municipalities all contribute to the
load. Sometimes you wonder how a small business can ever make it all work.
What is particularly vexing to northern operators is the
one-size-fits-all approach to regulation. Well-intended regulations that
make perfect sense in the southern situation can be unworkable or, even
worse, disastrous financially in the North.
It is not that we are advocating a different level of safety in the
North; not at all. What we are asking for is that any regulations make
sense, given the specific challenges we have in regard to climate,
geography, population and infrastructure. Proposed regulations need to make
sense on a cost-benefit basis for the North, when appropriately analyzed for
the North, separately from being lumped in as part of a cost benefit based
on the national average, which, of course, is dominated by large southern
airports and carriers.
Examples of this are RESA, which we previously touched on, and the
current review on flight and duty times that seeks to impose stringent,
large, international airline-style constraints on small operations,
threatening the very viability of many medevac, firefighting, seasonal
operations, business operations and other specialty operations.
Another concern is SMS, or Safety Management Systems; not about having
them, as they do work, and northern carriers currently, subject to their
requirements, have embraced them completely and are seeing the results in
both safety and efficiency improvements. The issue is, rather, that
Transport Canada, having mandated them, seems completely reluctant to accept
the output from them and provide relief or change anything based on feedback
resulting from them, despite the fact that it is coming from the carriers to
them using Transport Canada's own defined and mandated processes.
Perhaps nothing has done so much to transform the North as space-based
systems. Satellite systems have brought modern telephone, Internet,
television and enhanced search and rescue locating, all of which have
benefited air carriers, but perhaps none quite so much as GPS navigation.
This has dramatically changed things, bringing precision navigation to an
area that previously had only limited ground-based navigation aids and faced
the further complication of being in the area of compass unreliability.
GPS navigation and WASS/RNAV navigation capability bring better, more
cost-effective approaches to runways, but only once the course is designed
and verified. Bureaucratic delays in approving both approved approach design
criteria, and the actual approaches themselves, are costing industry
thousands of dollars in fuel and have resulted in degraded customer service.
Most GPS approaches in the North are still simply overlays of old circling
approaches and bring none of the real improvements that the technology is
capable of. The carriers have to a large extent upgraded their aircraft
capability and are ready to use it but are still waiting for the approaches
to be redone.
For some time, there have been various predictions of looming labour
shortages in the pilot and aircraft maintenance professions. It always seems
that just as they are about to become true, some event — such as an air
carrier failure or a global recession — comes along and saves the day.
However, we have real concerns that it is starting to happen now and it is
about to get worse for northern carriers. Things have been tight but okay
for the last while, but things are also picking up. Air Canada has recently
announced a major hiring program for its new low-cost operation, and WestJet
is starting up its turpoprop feeder operation.
This will stress the northern carriers, as they are usually a prime
labour source when expansion of this nature takes place. At the same time,
the military is hanging on to its people longer, and interest in getting
into aviation as a career seems to be at an all-time low. The supply of new
maintenance technicians, in particular, is in trouble due to increased
competition from other technical trades and biases, like the Aircraft
Maintenance Engineer program not being eligible for federal apprenticeship
programs and tax breaks due to jurisdictional issues.
Finally, I would like to quickly touch on the economic importance of the
northern-based carriers to the local communities. Not only does an air
carrier provide essential service to a community, but when an air carrier
bases its operations in the North, a significant amount of that money stays
in the North, providing well-paid jobs and otherwise contributing to the
local economy. NATA carriers provide almost 2,000 jobs in the North, with an
estimated northern payroll of $80 million and pay almost $1.2 million in
northern taxes, not to mention spinoff jobs, contracts and other economic
Contrast this with the southern-based carriers, such as Air Canada or
WestJet. When they come into the North it is to cherry-pick on the routes
that actually make some money but with virtually no payroll or investment
left behind. Systemic issues also make it difficult for northern carriers to
effectively compete on these routes with large, southern- based carriers due
to the lack of a level playing field. Air Canada and WestJet have used their
dominant positions with the large southern airports to establish cost
structures in areas such as de-icing and other services to their significant
Although providing competition and temporarily lowering prices on these
particular routes, it has the overall effect of driving up prices on the
service to the smaller communities so dependent on air travel.
In short, northern carriers are not looking for handouts but, rather,
give us the necessary tools and environment to prosper: good infrastructure,
a level playing field and appropriately crafted regulations.
That concludes my brief look at NATA, the carriers we represent.
Senator Stratton: Is there anything positive happening?
Mr. Nourse: Absolutely.
The Chair: I will have to discipline the senior senator at the
table and say if you have questions, you can address the chair.
That being said, Mr. Nourse, as I mentioned before when we met, there is,
as you know, a lot of sympathy for this cause around the table. The
committee has travelled north and has realized much of what you mentioned to
us. Now that we have it on the record, it will make our work that much
I would like to start by introducing the members. Senator Zimmer from
Manitoba; Senator Jaffer from B.C., Senator Verner from the province of
Quebec; Senator Merchant from Saskatchewan; Senator MacDonald from the
province of Cape Breton — when I say Nova Scotia he does not appreciate it.
Senator Greene from Nova Scotia; Senator Doyle from Newfoundland and
Labrador; Senator Stratton from Manitoba; Senator Unger from Edmonton; and
Senator Boisvenu from the province of Quebec.
I will start with Senator Boisvenu.
Senator Boisvenu: Mr. Nourse, thank you for joining us and
congratulations on your presentation. I think you mentioned that Alaska has
about sixty airports, all paved.
Mr. Nourse: Alaska, as a contrast to the territories, has less
than half of the geographical area but 61 paved runways.
Senator Boisvenu: How long have you been in the aviation business?
Mr. Nourse: I have been with the Northern Air Transport
Association for three years. Prior to that, I was 30 years with First Air
which, as I believe most people here know, is a carrier that specializes in
Senator Boisvenu: You know a lot about the North.
Mr. Nourse: I hesitate to say "a lot." I have been in the North
a lot and like to think I have a good idea of what I am talking about.
Senator Boisvenu: I am sympathetic because I lived in the north of
Quebec for 38 years
In all that time, have you had discussions with your colleagues in
Mr. Nourse: Yes.
Senator Boisvenu: We understand that it is an American strategy,
but what is the overall aviation development strategy in the state?
Mr. Nourse: They are very supportive of aviation in Alaska. The
airport funding, by and large, is federally provided. It is quite a
different system for both AIFs — airport improvement funds — and funding in
the States, but Alaska is quite subsidized that way. There are a
considerable number of regulations that have exemptions for specific clauses
to them to cater to the Alaskan situations.
Alaska also has — I cannot remember, unfortunately, the exact name of the
program — essentially a subsidy program for airfares. A lot of the locations
within Alaska have reduced fares and subsidies to the carriers to provide
the service, which is not necessarily a model that we are advocating.
Senator Boisvenu: Even so, in Alaska, the Americans have chosen a
development model for the aviation industry that is different from the
states in the south, whereas we do not seem to make a significant
distinction between the north and the south in terms of our regulations, do
Mr. Nourse: There have been, in the past, some regulations in
Canada that had a north-of-60 component to them: either a let or a special
There are a couple of problems with that, first and foremost being the
northern situation in Canada does not follow a nice, neat geographic line
across the North. It actually probably is closer to what happens with the
treeline, if anything. However, you cannot tell me that God's Lake Narrows,
Manitoba, is any more or less remote than places in the territories. The
Nunavik region of northern Quebec has no roads. The road stops at 55 north.
They are just as remote, and God help the Labrador coast.
When a regulation just has a "North of 60" aspect to it, it is missing
a significant amount of remote Canada in terms of allowing for it.
Senator Boisvenu: From the descriptions of all the people who have
come to tell us about the issues in the north, the situation seems alarming
to me, not to say catastrophic, in terms of the quality of the equipment,
the maintenance, the management, and so on. And most of the time, contracts
are actually given to municipalities that unfortunately do not have the
budgets they need to keep the equipment up to date.
This seems to have been going on for years. What steps has your
association, and others who are concerned about aviation in the north, taken
with various governments, Liberal or Conservative? What action have you
taken to make the government aware of this situation, which is nothing short
Mr. Nourse: In the past, we were primarily dialoguing with the
provincial and territorial governments. For the last number of years, they
have ended up being the primary operators of the airports. When the airports
were devolved years ago, first the Arctic A's and B's and the smaller
airports in various other regions, a lot of them became provincially or
As I indicated before, I think most governments have done a commendable
job in maintaining those assets. The problem is that is all they financially
are capable of doing, maintaining them, keeping them going well. The
surfaces are good; they are able to replace and upgrade lighting and
everything. However, in terms of significant improvements to length of
runway or pavement or graded areas, these types of things, it is huge
dollars in the North.
It is not like you can do in the South where you say, "Okay, we are
going to add some length to the end of the runway," and you call up the
local supplier and the gravel trucks start rolling and away you go. Just
putting a new gravel surface on a runway up there is a three-year operation.
It takes a year to move the equipment in over ice roads or barges. It takes
another construction season to do the crushing and get the gravel on, and
then it is another year to move that equipment out.
When you look at the actual amount that equipment has done and the fact
that it has to be paid for, it affects the price. As I said, it is easily an
order of magnitude higher. That is why it is such a problem with things like
RESA. Adding 500 feet onto the end of the runway, when that runway is a
muskeg bog and it is a three-year program and you have to bring in gravel,
is a big problem. As I say, it is not just call up the Karsons down the road
and say, "Bring it on in."
Going back to your question, we have actually in the last year or two
taken our message more to the federal government in forums like this.
Traditionally, our involvement with Ottawa was on the Transport Canada
regulatory side. Still very important, but in order to deal with the issues
we have today and to assist the territorial and Nunavik and other
governments in getting some funding to grapple with these basic
infrastructure issues, we have to become more active in this type of forum,
and that is why you are seeing us hopefully more.
Senator Boisvenu: The task of solving the problems in the north
boggles the mind. Southern solutions are being used to address situations
unique to the north.
Last week, another witness, also from your industry, appeared and talked
about research in order to find solutions that can be used in the north.
Often, that is what remote areas have done. We have used southern solutions
to solve problems in the north. It is true that the costs are huge.
In your opinion, is enough research being done into management and into
every kind of improvement for northern aviation, so that northern solutions
can be found, economic solutions that would mean that you did not have to
face these insurmountable challenges?
Mr. Nourse: I would have to say no. One of the areas that I did
not even get into is climate change. That is bringing a whole host of other
issues, again somewhat on the airline side but actually more on the airport
and infrastructure side. As the Arctic warms and permafrost becomes
destabilized, there is a great concern over some of the runways and their
stability, as well as even some of the buildings and other infrastructure
Based on the science of the time, a lot of the buildings have been put on
steel piles driven down into the permafrost. There is considerable concern
that with things warming, these piles may actually be conducting heat down
and the stability of the buildings will be in question, certainly at some of
the coastal airports. Most airports in the Arctic are very close to the
water and are not significantly above sea level. If there is any significant
rise, they will be in trouble. There are already issues with places like
Tuktoyaktuk, where with the ice gone, there is more wave action, more
erosion on the edges of the sides of the runway and stability issues as
Climate change is going to bring a whole host of issues that I do not
think we even properly understand yet. Whether or not there is enough
research to deal with them, I doubt it at this time.
Senator Merchant: When you compare things with Alaska — I like
when we compare things with Southern and Northern Canada because we
understand it a little better. What is the population of Alaska as compared
Mr. Nourse: Compared to the three territories, it is about seven
times the population. It is about 700,000 or 710,000, somewhere in there. It
obviously has a significantly larger economy as well.
Senator Merchant: Perhaps for the Americans a more strategic
location over time, too.
Mr. Nourse: Oh, yes.
Senator Merchant: For all these reasons.
The Chair: We can see Russia from there.
Mr. Nourse: Let us be honest; I would expect that some of that
pavement and infrastructure is a relic of either World War II or the Cold
Senator Merchant: When you have problems with aircraft up North —
I know that even in places like Regina, if there is something wrong with the
plane, there are no flights going out because they do not service the planes
in Regina. They have to bring in another aircraft in order to accommodate
passengers. What could you do up North if something like that happened?
Mr. Nourse: The major locations — Kuujjuaq, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet,
Yellowknife and Whitehorse — all have facilities for the full maintenance of
the aircraft and full staff. However, once you move out into the
communities, yes, you are in that situation. If there is an issue there, it
is send a rescue mission and bring in another bird, yes.
Senator Merchant: To maintain these facilities in small centres is
also expensive. I imagine that is why Air Canada likes to service all their
planes in one —
Mr. Nourse: Absolutely. To serve the communities, you have to base
the aircraft there, and that requires both the infrastructure and the
investment in it to do so properly.
Senator Merchant: Does that make air travel more expensive? The
air carriers or whoever is maintaining these facilities, they pass that
expense on to whom? The traveller?
Mr. Nourse: At the end of the day, let us be honest; there is only
one pocket, and that is the person either paying the freight or buying the
ticket. It all comes down to that. How you distribute that changes slightly,
but at the end of the day, that is the only person paying.
Senator Merchant: Fuel, you said, is more expensive, or someone
else might have said that.
Mr. Nourse: It depends on your locations. In some of the coastal
communities, fuel is not as expensive as you might think, because it is
brought in by ship, pumped directly into a tank, and in Iqaluit it is pumped
directly to the airport seamlessly. Other communities where it is relying on
barging down the Mackenzie, it is very expensive. That service is quite
Senator Merchant: You spoke about your fear of shortage of pilots,
and perhaps even attendants and maintenance.
Mr. Nourse: That is correct.
Senator Merchant: Do you pay more to pilots? Is there a northern
component to their remuneration?
Mr. Nourse: Absolutely, yes. Pilots with major companies such as
Canadian North, First Air, are making the equivalent, if not better, than
Senator Merchant: Even so, would they still move away?
Mr. Nourse: What you have to understand is people come to the
North for a variety of reasons. In the pilot and maintenance world, quite
often it is to gain experience because everyone is looking to gain the
experience to further their career. People come north and they either
absolutely love it and would never want to live anywhere else or be anywhere
else, or it is simply a stepping stone to that right seat out of Air Canada.
Unfortunately, for many of them, it is just that; it is a stepping stone.
We become their training ground — Air Inuit. If you go to Air Transat,
for example, you will find that probably 60 per cent or more of the pilots
from Air Transat came from Air Inuit. We may as well hang the sign up that
we train for them, because that is the reality.
The Chair: We made a comparison with the South. We have heard this
here and you made the comparison with the West, with Alaska. Are there
comparatives with Greenland or other Nordic states? Have you or associations
made the comparison with how they deal with those issues?
Mr. Nourse: Greenland has a heavily subsidized program. For years,
they actually went with a government-run program. For many years, Greenland
Air was operated by the Greenland government and, because of the very same
infrastructure issues, they actually operated large helicopters into many of
the communities. You can imagine what that cost. They then got to the point
where they simply could not afford that any longer, so they built STOL
strips, short takeoff and landing strips, and moved to the Twin Otter
aircraft in many locations and, in some cases, the Dash 7. Greenland Air was
one of the early adopters of the De Havilland Dash 7 and used it on a number
of their routes. Over the years they have continued to expand.
Virtually all the strips in Greenland are paved. Some of them are still
short, but with the exception of places like Station Nord at the very top of
Greenland, the vast majority of them are paved strips that are provided by
the government. I do not believe Greenland Air is any longer a completely
government entity. There is a private component, but it still receives
Senator Boisvenu: My next question is very down to earth. Why are
we shortening runways in the north?
Why are we making the runways shorter?
Mr. Nourse: Part of it deals with terrain and part of it deals
with history. A lot of the strips, as I mentioned, were built for the DC 3
and date back to the days of the DEW Line and the Mid-Canada Line and the
Cold War. As such, they were perfectly fine. However, a lot of it is
geographic constraint. If you go into Pangnirtung, one of the shorter
strips, the strip runs right through the middle of town and has water at
both ends. Broughton Island is, again, very constrained. I believe Grise
Fiord is the most northerly settled point in Nunavut, not counting Alert.
The only thing that can really get in there is a short takeoff and landing
Twin Otter because there is water at one end and a mountain at the other.
There are a lot of these geographic constraints that exist.
Senator Boisvenu: Does shortening them have anything to do with
environmental concerns or standards?
Mr. Nourse: What are you referring to here? I just want to make
sure I am answering the question correctly. Are you referring to the runway
and safety area program or just the fact that they are short?
Senator Boisvenu: I am trying to understand. Normally, runways are
lengthened because a type of aircraft needs more space in order to land. But
we are being told that, in the north, they are being shortened. I understand
that steel contracts in the cold. But I am trying to understand why runways
are contracting too. I imagine that would add one more constraint, would it
Mr. Nourse: Where the runways can be reasonably economically
extended, the territorial governments have been doing that. In the west,
they recently lengthened a few strips. Again, it is hideously expensive, and
in some other locations it is simply extremely expensive to do and no one
has yet come up with a cost-effective way of doing that.
Like every other government, there are many pulls on the purse and
sometimes airports are not viewed as the highest priority.
Senator Boisvenu: As I did in the previous committee, I am going
to make you put on a senator's hat. If you had to write a report, what would
be your top two recommendations that a federal government, one committed to
the development of the aviation industry in the north, should work on?
Mr. Nourse: Certainly the airports.
Senator Boisvenu: As infrastructure?
Mr. Nourse: By "the airports" I am referring to the entire
airports package. In some locations there are significant terminal issues. A
lot of them have length issues and graded area issues. As I mentioned, some
have GPS approach issues. Improving the airports' infrastructure will enable
the carriers to provide the better service. It will allow us to use the best
and most appropriate aircraft. When you use that best, most appropriate
aircraft, you are using the cheapest per unit. You are delivering your
lowest cost per passenger, or your lowest cost of pound of freight moving in
there, when you can use the right aircraft.
Senator Boisvenu: The impact is very large; is that what you are
Mr. Nourse: The impact is very large, yes. There must be paved
runways or more paved runways. For example, for a lot of the carriers up
there now, the staple aircraft in many locations is the B737-200. We are
talking about an aircraft that dates back to 1972 in some base cases, but it
can land on gravel. You cannot do that with a newer generation 737.
The carriers desperately want to move into it. If you take a look at Air
North, they are buying B737-400s and 500s and using them on the route to
Vancouver and Edmonton and any place else they can fly them because they are
far more cost-effective. However, when they go north, they have to take the
Senator Boisvenu: That was the first priority. What is your second
Mr. Nourse: My second priority would be the weather and
navigation, which are all part of the NAV CANADA world in terms of improving
The Chair: I would like to thank you for your presentation. I am
sure that you will have the occasion to see a lot of your comments in our
I would like the members to stay around, because we will have a short in
camera meeting. We will give the people here two minutes to turn off the
I will remind you that the chair will be leading a delegation of
parliamentarians at an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Quebec next
week, so travelling will be limited. The deputy chair will be on the
committee. Therefore, we will not be sitting next Tuesday and Wednesday, but
we will be squeezing the witnesses scheduled for that week into the
following week so that we will not be delaying our meetings more than we
Thank you very much, Mr. Nourse, for your presentation. If you have any
additional comments, always feel free to communicate with the clerk and we
will add them into your presentation.
Mr. Nourse: Thank you. I would like to thank the committee for the
opportunity. The clerk has my contact information. If anyone wishes any
information on specifics, I would be more than happy to accommodate.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
(The committee continued in camera.)