For years, we hoped one day to travel to a destination far from Quebec without paying for a round trip to Europe or even Asia. Since Wednesday, it is now possible for nearly 100,000 travelers to take advantage of the discounted rate, generously subsidized by the Quebec government.
Posted yesterday at 7:08 PM.
Would you take advantage of the PAAR Program to buy a $500 round-trip airfare to visit Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Gaspésie, or the vast forests of Abitibi or Lac-Saint-Jean?
The question arises because this new programme, created to support six regional airlines, including Air Canada, is primarily intended to encourage travelers to fly solely for recreational purposes from Montreal airports, in Saint-Hubert and Quebec.
In the face of the many limitations associated with AIP, it can be difficult to navigate, and one can also wonder how the government will be able to exercise any control whatsoever to manage the many potential cases of abuse.
Self-employed workers traveling as part of their employment, company employees who can be compensated for the $500 fare, organizations, health centers or civil servants are not entitled to claim the discounted fares offered by PAAR.
But who will check whether the ticket paid for $500 will not be reimbursed by the employer or whether it will be included in the list of expenses of a self-employed worker?
The government is relying on the goodwill of users who will benefit from the discounted rates and who will have to sign an oath confirming that they are traveling for purely personal and non-professional purposes. For scammers, a declaration of honor is worth what it’s worth…
Each passenger will have the option of making three round trips in the same year, or six one-way trips.
However, regional carriers will find it difficult to know if a passenger has actually exercised their rights to three round trips with a competitor or whether they are checking in using a different address.
Note that people in remote areas will not be able to take advantage of these $500 flat rates, as they will continue to qualify for Level 1 of the program, which offers compensation of 30 to 60% of the full fare of the air carrier’s area, depending on the level of isolation or distance from their area original.
This distinction also underscores the tourism incentive aspect of the Zones Air Access Program, where even foreign tourists will be able to take advantage of $500 if they want to leave Montreal to visit Shibugamao or Gaspe.
Traveling on foot?
PAAR’s ultimate goal is to stimulate traffic on domestic Quebec airlines by encouraging travelers to get on a plane rather than get to their destination by car, thanks to the deep discounts afforded on ticket prices.
This does not regulate travel once at the destination. Personally, when I travel to Gaspésie, Côte-Nord, Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi-Témiscamingue or Nord-du-Québec, I much prefer taking my car and discovering all the nooks and crannies in the area, those I make my charm and those who encourage me on their visit.
Tourists from Montreal, Quebec or from abroad who are going to take a plane to land in Gaspé will definitely want to discover something other than just Gaspé Bay, they definitely want to explore Rivière-au-Renard as much as they want to contemplate the rock at Bercy.
Finding a rental car in the area can quickly become quite a challenge, due to their limited number and also the crazy inflation that has taken over the car rental market and caused prices to skyrocket across the country.
Same note and other questions regarding the large number of $500 tickets that will be reserved exclusively for the Magdalen Islands destination.
The Department of Transportation planned to give 30% of the $100,000,500 round-trip tickets to the islands, as they are the preferred destination for urban tourists from Montreal, Quebec and beyond.
However, the tourists who frequent Îles-de-la-Madeleine and who actually travel there have the financial means to pay for this adventure.
So why give a discount to the wealthy who would have been traveling there anyway?
A phenomenon noted by regional carrier Pascan, which recorded five times more bookings during Wednesday than usual.
“The first online reservation was made at 12:04 am on Wednesday night and our staff was overwhelmed with calls all day long. Many travelers wanted to book a flight to the islands in July, but it is already full. Yanni Gagnon, the airline’s executive vice president, explained that You have to do it six months in advance, so they’ll be back next year.
Quebec lags significantly behind other Canadian provinces when it comes to using air transportation to move between regions.
PAAR comes to provide a temporary solution to a much deeper structural problem, the problem of declining population in many of the most beautiful corners of the country, preventing consistent and economically viable air service, 12 months a year.
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