The erosion of free trade with the U.S. and Mexico would be bad for Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada’s chief executive said Tuesday.
“We see the economic value and the economic contribution that NAFTA has facilitated,” Calin Rovinescu told the Forum of the Americas in Toronto.
Although bilateral air agreements are not part of the agreement, he said the largest foreign carrier in the United States by flight frequencies and cities served has relied significantly on connecting and business traffic coming across the border.
Rovinescu said free trade has been good and will continue to be beneficial for Canada and the United States, in particular.
“I would be very concerned to see a further erosion of this,” he said, referring to NAFTA.
“My confidence is there that the negotiators…will come to something sensible, but we certainly have seen the benefits of this.”
The 23-year-old agreement faces an uncertain future after U.S. President Donald Trump launched renegotiations with a threat to tear up a deal he describes as being bad for the United States.
Rovinescu said Air Canada (TSX:AC) makes a $75 billion to $100 billion annual economic contribution when factoring in the model that estimates the economic benefit from airlines equalling five to seven times revenues.
“Serving those 70 or so cities in the United States has enabled us to make more than our fair share of economic contribution,” he added in a question session with Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty.
Air Canada’s CEO added that he’s disappointed by Boeing’s trade action against Bombardier’s C Series aircraft, which the airline has ordered.
He said the C Series is the first new innovation in the smaller narrowbody segment in more than two decades that is shaking up the 100- to 150-seat airplane market.
Airbus and Bombardier recently announced that the European aircraft manufacturer will purchase a majority stake in the C Series program and build an assembly line at its plant in Mobile, Ala., for the U.S. market. The move is aimed at allowing the aircraft to avoid the imposition of export duties.
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press