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Holiday travel mess shows why Canadian air travel industry needs competition: NDP

Singh calling on Liberal government to find ways to make the airline industry more competitive
A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh says he wants to see more competition within Canada’s airspace in order to make flying more affordable for people.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh says the holiday travel woes that left thousands of passengers stranded at airports or struggling to find flights home show why there should be more competition in Canada’s airspace.

He says the lack of choice for passengers is also making flying less affordable, and he’s calling on the Liberal government to find ways to make the airline industry more competitive.

The Canadian Transportation Agency requires domestic air service operators to be majority-owned and controlled by Canadians, limiting options for travellers — especially in rural or remote areas.

Over the holidays, hundreds of people were stranded in Mexico when Sunwing cancelled flights, and the airline has stopped flying from Saskatchewan entirely until next month.

Air Canada is discontinuing flights from Saskatoon and Regina to Calgary this month, after it discontinued flights from Yellowknife to Edmonton last year.

Singh says he wants the CEOs of both companies to answer questions at a future transport committee meeting, but that Transport Minister Omar Alghabra should also ensure there’s better oversight.

“We need to make sure people have access to being able to get around the country, and that it is affordable,” Singh said Wednesday.

“And right now, for many people, it is not at all. It’s something we need to look at and find solutions for.”

RELATED: ‘Unacceptable’: Committee chair says Sunwing, Via Rail must answer for holiday mess