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Chorus Aviation Inc. (ticker: CHR_A.TO, exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (.TO))
News Release -
Jazz to resume service at Toronto City Centre Airport on August 28, 2006
HALIFAX, July 7 /CNW/ - The following letter was sent today to Ms. Lisa
Raitt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Port Authority from
Joseph Randell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Canada Jazz.
July 7, 2006
Ms. Lisa Raitt
President and Chief Executive Officer
Toronto Port Authority
60 Harbour Street
Toronto, ON M5J 1B7
Dear Ms. Raitt:
Re: Toronto City Centre Airport
We continue to be extremely disappointed by the TPA's actions, most
recently with the misleading account in your letter of July 6, 2006. You
indicate that you are surprised that Jazz plans to recommence operations at
the Toronto City Centre Airport (TCCA) with service to both Ottawa and
Montreal. Ever since Jazz was evicted from the TCCA in February 2006, we have
been very specific, and have repeatedly reiterated, in all of our
communications with the TPA, that Jazz intended to resume service at the
earliest possible date. In addition, yesterday's announcement follows a press
release made by Air Canada on February 2, 2006, which stated, "With the
improved access to Toronto City Centre Airport, Air Canada will pursue a
substantial increase of frequencies between that airport and Ottawa as well as
the reinstatement of flights to and from Montreal". It therefore baffles us
that you could possibly be surprised.
It seems that the TPA simply cannot make up its mind. On the one hand, it
says it wants to expand the TCCA's commercial carrier operations by going
forward with a $15 million facility enhancement to improve access to the
airport, and yet, on the other hand, it is going to excessive lengths to try
to stop the only commercial carrier with a firm date and a 16 years operating
history from recommencing service. In a story in today's Toronto Sun you are
quoted as saying, "We do want Jazz back". This blatant contradiction is
curious and absolutely puzzling.
We would also like to remind you, once again, that it was never Jazz's
choice to suspend service at the TCCA. This decision was made only after it
was apparent that alternative facilities would not be available to Jazz before
our eviction date from the City Centre Aviation Limited facility. Despite
repeated appeals to the TPA for assistance to accommodate Jazz, none was
forthcoming. As a result, our employees, customers and the traveling public
have been greatly inconvenienced by this lengthy service suspension, which you
now seem determined to unnecessarily further prolong.
With respect to the commercial carrier operating agreement (CCOA), the
fact of the matter is that our existing CCOA has effectively governed our
relationship for years and remains in force. The TPA cannot unilaterally
terminate this agreement; indeed, there is no reason for it to do so,
especially in the absence of agreement on new terms. Jazz has rejected your
attempts to unilaterally force us to sign a new unduly restrictive draft CCOA
with conditions that are contrary to the TPA's obligations under the Canada
Marine Act, and we have brought an application in the Federal Court to set
aside the TPA's purported illegal actions. As you know, the TPA required Jazz
to sign a highly unusual confidentiality agreement prior to even receiving the
draft CCOA, something virtually unheard of in matters between airlines and
public airport authorities. Through our negotiations, you are certainly aware
of our objections to the terms you are seeking to impose, which would threaten
the viability of our operations at the TCCA. You should also be aware that Mr.
Roger Tassé has agreed to review your draft CCOA as part of his broader review
of the operations and management of the TCCA.
In a Canadian Press story from yesterday, it was reported that you
indicated that the draft CCOA only needs some terms finalized and you are
quoted as saying, "It wouldn't take very long". We find this comment puzzling
given that Jazz provided you with detailed comments on your draft CCOA on
March 16, 2006, following our meeting on the subject on March 2, 2006, and
Jazz has yet to receive a substantive response to these comments after almost
four months, despite repeated written requests made to the TPA.
In the interests of accountability and transparency, we urge the TPA to
lift the shroud of secrecy surrounding the draft CCOA so that all
stakeholders, potential operators and taxpayers can better understand the
TPA's true plans for commercial service at the TCCA.
You state in your letter that "The TPA's mandate is to ensure the orderly
operation and long-term viability of the TCCA". Airport authorities that are
concerned with their viability promote access and welcome options for the
public they serve. They don't discourage access, limit use, or constrain
The sum of your actions appear to be nothing but a thinly veiled and
orchestrated attempt to restrict Jazz's operations at the TCCA and, in doing
so, establish a virtual monopoly at the TCCA for a single corporate interest.
It appears that you have concluded that the only way to ensure the "long term
viability of the TCCA" is the establishment of a monopoly operator with the
TPA's full and unmitigated support. That position is not only contrary to the
duties of a federal public agency, it is also contrary to the public interest.
Until such time as a new and proper CCOA is negotiated, a development
Jazz would welcome, or the Federal Court rules, Jazz will continue to operate
under the existing CCOA which remains in force and ensures orderly operations.
Jazz has every intention of recommencing services at the TCCA on August 28,
2006 as announced.
Joseph D. Randell
President and Chief Executive Officer
cc: The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, PC, MP, Minister of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities