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It’s Time to Privatize Canadian Airports

There aren’t many things that can’t be bought for $21 billion. Australia’s Sydney Airport is one of those things. This week the board of directors of the privately-operated, stock exchange-listed airport turned down a AUS$22.8 billion buyout offer from a consortium of international investors; it was the group’s second rejected bid.

Why The Indian Government is Privitising Airports

Recently there has been much discussion and furore regarding the Indian Government’s decision to privatise many public and government-held entities, including airports. Over the next five years, the Government plans to privatise thirty to thirty-five airports. Whether you favour this decision or not, it is necessary to understand why the Government has taken this step.

Airport privatisation: the great debate

Currently, 14% of airports globally have some level of privatisation, but this could be set to increase, thanks to the incentive of generous private funding and reduced reliance on government money. Nevertheless, should we listen to IATA’s warning that privatisation is the wrong path for airports?

As travel soars, Ottawa urged to revisit airport privatization

From January through July, 29.4 million passengers went through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, a 2.6-per-cent jump from the same period in 2018. A series of strong years has allowed the group that operates Pearson, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, to pare down its debt. It might also open the runway for the federal government to look again at selling off the airport after this fall’s election.



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"Before the pandemic, a mere 1 percent of air travellers in Canada or the U.S. flew through a private sector airport. ‘North America is certainly out of step with the rest of the world."

- Robert Poole

The North American Oddity

Canada’s airports suffered through an existential crisis every bit as bad as Australia or elsewhere. Perhaps worse, considering that bankruptcy was openly discussed for some hard-hit airports and with revenue losses across the sector estimated at $5.5 billion. Only after a hefty federal government bailout, more debt and the recent rebound in domestic air travel has the immediate sense of panic abated. Yet the long-term sustainability of Canada’s airport sector remains an open question due to several significant and enduring problems.

Perhaps the most important development in global air travel over the past several decades has been the growing role of the private sector in airports – either as owners or long-term lease holders. According to Airports Council International, 75 percent of all air travellers in Europe during the pre-Covid era flew through privately-run airports. In South America, the figure is 66 percent. In Asia, it’s nearly half. Yet North America remains a curious exception to this trend. A mere 1 percent of air travellers in Canada or the U.S. transited via a private sector airport.

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