Vancouver Airport Authority pushing up airline costs, says Competition Bureau

Sep 29 2016, 6:24 pm

The Competition Bureau has taken action against Vancouver Airport Authority, saying its rules about in-flight food suppliers are hiking up the cost of running an airline in Canada.

In a release, Competition Commissioner John Pecman, said the VAA is restricting competition by denying new in‑flight catering suppliers access to the airport.

“As a gatekeeper, the VAA controls access to important resources that in‑flight catering firms require to compete,” said Pecman. “The VAA must follow the Competition Act to drive innovation and allow market forces to work.”

A Bureau investigation has concluded that airlines operating at the airport want greater choice of in‑flight catering suppliers, and new suppliers want to meet this demand.

But, unlike other airport authorities in Canada, the VAA has refused to allow the new suppliers to operate at the airport.

Pecman says the VAA has not properly justified the decision and is asking the Competition Tribunal to order the VAA to open the airport up to greater in‑flight catering competition.

VAA ‘disappointed’ in action

However, in a release, airport authority President and CEO Craig Richmond said he was disappointed in the Competition Commissioner’s decision.

“With the constraints on the market for inflight catering services, we do not believe that there has been adequate demand at the airport for additional providers,” said Richmond.

“[We] decided not to permit additional inflight caterers at YVR at this time for the purpose of maintaining healthy competition between the two full service caterers currently operating at the airport.”

Richmond says a third catering provider would reduce the quality and efficiency of the fresh food provision services for long haul carriers, which he says would lead to less competition.

“We are continuing to assess the situation and we will defend our position, which is to make decisions that ensure we operate a safe, efficient and competitive airport that drives economic development in the region and benefits Canada as a gateway between Asia and the Americas.”