$500 plane tickets |  Half way to cruising speed

$500 plane tickets | Half way to cruising speed

Travelers haven’t flocked to $500 tickets to fly to the four corners of Quebec since the start of the summer season. Nearly two months after it went into effect, Legault’s government program was at half of what is considered average monthly round-trip sales.

Posted at 4:54 pm

Julien Arsenault

Julien Arsenault

“I think in terms of impact, it’s less than we expected,” observes John Gradek, an aviation expert and professor at McGill University. Surely the government should have expected the show to be more in demand. »

Round trips at $500 are the flagship measure of the Regional Action Support Program (PAAR), launched with great fanfare by Quebec last April. between 1Ahem On June 25 and July – a period of 55 days – the equivalent of 7,628 subsidized round trips were purchased, according to data provided by the Ministry of Transport.

Annually, Quebec plans to offer 98,800 round trips. To sell them, it would be necessary to sell around 8,235 round trips per month. With an average of 4,160 sales per month, the PAAR is far from having reached cruising speed.

“We’re still in the early stages of the program,” says Isabelle Dostaler, dean of the business school at Memorial University in Newfoundland. We have seen the problems at airports. Maybe that weighs in the balance. »


Spread your fingers across the chart to view it in full screen mode.

It was not possible to speak with the Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel. In a statement, however, his cabinet said it was “pleased with the reception the program is having so far,” which is in its “first phase.”

According to actors consulted by Pressseveral elements can explain the slow beginnings of the PAAR.

For destinations popular with tourists, such as Gaspésie and the Magdalen Islands, many travelers probably bought their tickets long before the start of the program. Also, even if subsidized airfares are offered, you still have to find lodging on the spot.

For example, Gaspésie and the Île-de-la-Madeleine, there were not many hotel rooms available because people had already planned their trips in January and February. It is not only the plane, but also a question of tourist infrastructure.

John Gradek, aviation expert and professor at McGill University

From 2019 to 2021, the occupancy rate of accommodation establishments (hotels, motels and other registered residences) reached an average of 83% on the Gaspésie side, according to Tourisme Gaspésie. Places were already limited before the call for PAAR. Therefore, the capacity for more tourists is limited.

move on site

If you’re traveling outside of the major hubs by air, finding a rental car can be a headache. Supply is limited and prices have skyrocketed as inflation has taken over the car rental niche.

“Surface transportation is a problem, stresses Mr.me Dostaler. If we have a program like this [le PAAR], we must ensure that the tourist infrastructure accompanies it. »


Isabelle Dostaler, Dean of the School of Business Administration at Memorial University, Newfoundland

Tourisme Gaspésie is well aware of the situation.

“We see significant challenges once in the destination, whether due to the precariousness of the car rental fleet, the taxi industry or public transport”, underlines the general director of Tourisme Gaspésie, Joëlle Ross.

Airlines welcomed the Legault government’s plan. After two years of disruption from the pandemic, it’s still hard to quantify the impact of $500 tickets on passenger numbers, according to PAL Airlines director of business development Tommy Desfossés.

In his opinion, we will see if the programming pays off when the summer season is behind us.

Perhaps the tourist peak will lengthen. But for that to happen, the services must continue to be offered. For example, will restaurants continue to offer the same service? There is a labor shortage in the sector. There are several things to consider.

Tommy Desfossés, Director of Business Development at PAL Airlines

The mayor of Gaspé and president of the Union of Quebec Municipalities, Daniel Côté, believes that the $500 bills have been attracting travelers since the beginning of the summer, even if the return to the pre-pandemic situation is not for tomorrow.

The elected official, who welcomed the Quebec plan, believes, however, that we can do better in terms of promotion.

“We talk about it a lot in the news, but not so much afterwards,” stresses Mr. Côté. They ask me a lot of questions like “am I eligible?”. This is a sign that you lack promotion. »

Who can get $500 tickets?

Montreal-Trudeau Airport, Jean-Lesage Airport in Quebec, or Saint-Hubert Airport must be the point of departure or arrival. A traveler wishing to travel from Val-d’Or to Sept-Îles, for example, would not be eligible. The Legault government’s plan also expands the airfare reduction program for remote areas.

More information

  • 6
    Number of airlines eligible for the program: Air Canada, Pascan, Air Liaison, PAL Airlines, Air Creebec and Air Inuit.

    Source: Government of Quebec

  • 261 million
    Endowment of the Support Program for Regional Action for the next five years

    Source: Government of Quebec

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