Quebec begins subsidizing in-province flights on Wednesday to boost regional tourism

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QUEBEC — It will be cheaper to fly from Montreal to some of Quebec’s northern regions than to Europe starting June 1.

That’s when the Quebec government will start subsidizing the cost of in-province flights, Transport Minister François Bonnardel said as he announced the details of the plan Tuesday.

The program, which is expected to cost $86 million over two years, will allow people to return to regions they've previously visited or discover new parts of the province for a "reasonable price," Bonnardel told reporters in Quebec City.

“It’s a significant step for the tourism industry; it’s a significant step for the regional aviation industry, and it’s also a significant step for all of Quebec,” he said.

The program has two components.

First, residents of remote regions, such as Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, the Gaspé peninsula, Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean and the James Bay Cree Territories, will be eligible for a rebate of between 30 per cent and 60 per cent after they buy tickets for in-province flights.

Second, those living elsewhere, including visitors from outside Quebec, will be able to buy round-trip tickets directly from airlines to remote regions for $500 and one-way tickets for $250.

The general public will be limited to a maximum of three round trips, or six one-way tickets, per year, and travellers must start or end their flights at airports in Quebec City or the Montreal region. Only flights for personal purposes will be eligible for the discounted fares.

Julian Roberts, president of Pascan, a regional airline participating in the program, told reporters that the rebates will permit people to more frequently visit relatives in remote regions and make it cheaper for parents who live in small towns to visit their children studying in Montreal and Quebec City.

Almost 100,000 tickets will be available to roughly 20 destinations during the program’s first year.

“Honestly, it will be a real success if we manage, and I hope we will, to sell these 98,000 tickets in a full year,” Bonnardel said, adding that if all the tickets are sold, more could be made available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2022.

Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press

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