Petition to the House of Commons
We, the undersigned, residents of the Province of Manitoba, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:
- There is a growing number of residents in capital region of Winnipeg that would like to see a direct flight from Winnipeg to India or at the very least, from Winnipeg to India via one stopover in a country in Europe;
- The region surrounding Winnipeg including Manitoba, Western Ontario and Eastern Saskatchewan has also seen substantial growth of people of Indian heritage;
- Winnipeg has in the past, had international flights direct from Winnipeg to cities in Europe; and
- The overall population in the area that is served by the Winnipeg International Airport has grown considerably over recent years and is estimated at close to 2 million people.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Immediately consider how best to encourage and support direct international flights from Winnipeg to destinations in India and or any European countries that have direct flights to cities in India like Amritsar and New Delhi; and
2. Promote airlines to address the need and work with the Winnipeg International Airport and other stakeholders to make these flights become a reality.
Government response tabled
Response by the Minister of Transport
Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra
The Government of Canada takes note of the campaign advocating for direct flights between Canada and Amritsar, India, and is aware of the importance of this issue for many Canadians, especially those with ties to Punjab.
The Government of Canada is responsible for negotiating bilateral air transport agreements with foreign governments. These agreements govern the operation of scheduled air services and provide the legal framework within which airlines make decisions based on their own commercial priorities, actual market demand, and the operational viability of routes. This is an important point as the locations that Canadian airlines decide to serve are business decisions.
The Government of Canada expanded its air transport agreement with India in 2022, and was able to remove limits on capacity (i.e., the number of flights that can be operated). Currently, Canadian air carriers can operate own-aircraft services to Bangalore (Bengaluru), Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai, while Indian air carriers can operate own-aircraft services to Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and two additional points to be selected by India. While agreement was not reached on access to additional cities during the negotiations in 2022, officials from both countries remain in contact to discuss further expansion of the air transport agreement.
In the meantime, when operating code-share services, which is a type of marketing arrangement, Amritsar is available to Canadian carriers. Additionally, the agreement does not preclude Indian airlines from operating direct services to/from anywhere in India, including Amritsar, to Canada.
Bilateral agreements cannot be unilaterally amended, and thus far an agreement has not been reached with India with respect to access to additional cities. However, Canadian Ministers have pressed Canada’s air transport interests during meetings with their Indian counterparts. The Minister of Transport has pursued the addition of cities in Punjab in the air transport agreement on multiple occasions, including with India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, in May of 2022, where he sought an expanded air transport agreement that also includes direct access to Amritsar for Canadian airlines.
Over the past year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has met with her counterpart, India’s External Affairs Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, on a number of occasions, which is a reflection of the countries’ strong and growing economic, cultural and people-to-people ties. The Ministers have continually taken these opportunities to reaffirm their commitment to deepening cooperation in these and all facets of the bilateral relationship.
Most recently, these Ministers met on March 3, 2023, and discussed, among other things, Canada’s interests in obtaining market access for direct air services to a greater number of cities in India (including in Punjab).
Subsequently, on March 24, 2023, Canada’s High Commissioner to India wrote to Secretary (East) of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, reiterating Canada’s interest in exchanging the right for Canada’s respective airlines to operate services to any point or points in the other country’s territory. The Government of Canada has not yet received a reply.
The Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development has also recently spoken with her counterpart, the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister, Piyush Goyal, on May 8, 2023 regarding this issue. The Minister of Transport also met with Minister Goyal the same day to further press Canada’s interest in access to Punjab.
With respect to services operated by European airlines, Canada’s air transport agreement with the United Kingdom and its agreement with the 27 Member States of the European Union, are very open, and permit airlines to operate from all cities in Canada to any destinations in the United Kingdom or the European Union. There are no impediments preventing Canadian, United Kingdom or European Union air carriers from serving Winnipeg. However, it is important to note that the Government of Canada does not determine which routes Canadian or foreign carriers serve as the decision is a commercial one made by airlines. It is also important to note that the rights of European airlines to serve points in India are set out in the air transport agreements between those carriers’ respective home countries and India.
- Presented to the House of Commons
June 1, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01501)
- Government response tabled
- July 19, 2023
Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.
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