Low fuel prices don’t mean cheap flights
GAS, gasoline and steam. Such is the nature of the range of questions addressed in today’s column.
Question: With oil prices lower than they have been in years, isn’t it time airlines ended their ridiculous fuel charges and lowered flying costs across the board?
Answer: Airline profits were already back on track even before the most recent slide in oil prices. So it would seem a logical assumption that travellers across the airline spectrum would begin to see some significant price shifts.
Canadian airlines argue fuel surcharges for overseas flight are necessary to somehow remain competitive with airlines based in the United States.
Given the fact various fees and taxes levied against airlines in the U.S. are much lower, there may be some validity to the argument. However, industry analysts also recognize these extras have been profit-driven as well.
While the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the cosy club the major air players of the world belong to, projects lower fares are likely over the next couple of months, domestic carriers suggest the Canadian realities are different than those south of the border in another way.
Their counter-argument is based on the value of the falling Canadian dollar against the American greenback, compared with the savings acquired with the fall in oil prices.
Air Canada estimates that for every $1 drop in oil prices, the company potentially saves $26 million in fuel costs.
Offsetting that is the negative impact of our falling dollar. Canada’s airlines buy their fuel based on U.S. currency values. Since our dollar began losing value early last year, its buying power has decreased by more than four per cent.
Air Canada say every one cent drop in the value of the Canadian dollar affects pre-tax profits to the tune of $48 million.
It will take a better mathematician than myself to calculate where figures lie and liars figure, but these are the rationales being made these days.
While the real balancing point may be arguable, what is not in question is the consumer expectation relating to daily media reports about falling oil prices.
Another fly in the proverbial ointment is upcoming union negotiations at Air Canada. While the airline recently achieved a stable, long-term agreement with its pilot’s union, on the near horizon, the airline’s biggest union will be at the bargaining table asking for a lot more.
Unifor represents the approximately 4,000 front-line employees of the airline, including ticket and gate agents and others who deal directly with the public. They took some heavy hits during the darkest days of Air Canada’s bankruptcy protection negotiations a decade ago.
The union sees this as payback time, arguing salary ranges between $23,000 and $43,000 annually are simply too low for the work they do.
These discussions will start to get serious later this month. And with profit projections for the airline as rosy as they have ever been, this series of negotiations has the potential of going off the rails quickly.
Question: River cruise lines seem to operate in most of the rivers of the
However limited, their cruises — targeted mostly to seniors — are moderately priced and provide passengers with excellent experiences through Canada’s most historic regions.
Question: This is a crazy question, which may come more from my imagination than anything, for all I know. Whenever I am on a commercial flight, I find I am very bloated and gaseous. I am the guy making several trips to the washroom during the flight. Is there any change that takes place in a person’s body that would bring this on during air travel?
Answer: There may be silent sighs of relief as I answer in the affirmative to this delicate question.
Everyone has the biological need to expel gas created by foods that are not fully absorbed by our systems. They are usually converted to hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
My research tells me most of us expel approximately a litre of gas on a daily basis. However, when we are flying at 30,000 feet, the gases inside us expand by almost a third, causing bloating and signalling us to address the issue.
This may explain why there often are long lineups for airplane washrooms, on lengthy flights in particular.
Forward your travel questions to email@example.com. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard
Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www. journeystravelgear.com. Read Ron’s travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca.
St. Lawrence Cruise Lines offer Canadian river cruises that include historic Quebec City.