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Airport Rent Freeze KO'd Despite Surplus


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Globe says ACE, other big birds in for a price roasting.

The Globe and Mail reports in its Thursday, Dec. 16, edition that Canada's

struggling aviation industry has suffered a painful one-two punch, as

Transport Minister Jean Lapierre's plan to freeze, then lower, airport rents

has been put on hold while Toronto's Pearson International Airport says it

will raise its key fee to airlines by 17 per cent. The Globe's Simon Tuck

writes that the two developments will likely mean higher costs for Canada's

airline industry and no relief for the air travellers who use the facilities

and services. Mr. Lapierre said last week he had a plan to freeze and then

cut the rent Canada's airports pay Ottawa. He wanted cabinet to okay a plan

to have rent frozen for 2005 as an interim step, and then permanently

lowered. Unnamed sources, however, say that plan was quashed this week by

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and the Department of Finance. Despite a

forecast for an $8.9-billion surplus in fiscal 2004-05, they are concerned

about the government's fiscal health in the coming years in the wake of a

series of big-budget spending moves. Airports will now have to deal with the

large rent increases contained in the federal government's previous schedule.

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