This is not the blog I was planning on writing.
I was planning to write about the imperative of direct air service in and out of Edmonton that allows the economic engine of Canada to operate at its fullest potential. I was planning to write about the youngest, fastest growing region in Canada that is served by an Edmonton International Airport experiencing the highest growth in all categories among all competitors. I was planning to write about a $78 billion local economy and a 1,200,000 population that is growing at twice the speed of the rest of the country. And I was planning to write about, not just our need but the entire country’s need, for us to have direct market access for people, products and capital if we want our collective economy to grow.
I was going to rant … yes rant … maybe even rage. Rage against decades of protecting our national airline with taxpayer dollars only to have it turnaround and force everyone to fly through Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver. Rage against a protectionist transport policy that prevents new carriers from new destinations with new routes to be easily established to meet growing demand. Rage against airlines cancelling high-demand routes while claiming they are uneconomical. And rage against the very punitive, monopolistic behaviours that prevent Canadian companies from becoming global players, and that prevent Canadian businesses and consumers from having choices.
But I am not.
What I want to write about is the amazing, coordinated, rapid response that can be unleashed when our City and Capital Region comes under attack. A response within 90 minutes between the Mayor’s office, Edmonton Airport, EEDC and the Chamber … that charges out across the country … that links every business, political and community leader in a unified voice … to stand armed and ready to defend any malicious action by any organization against this community.
Nothing … no force on earth … can stop a City whose time has come. And nothing … no flight or pipeline will prevent us from connecting our people and products with the world.
The North American airline industry has a long and colorful history of bad management, poor decision making, political interference and being short sighted. As long as we continue to subsidize this, these issues will continue with AC. If on the other hand, we support entrepenuers like Don Bell and his partners at WestJet, we may actually, over time, see an end to this type of bad judgement. Most ,but not all, of the surviving carriers south of the border, realized that they needed to discard the crutch and move to an entrepenurial mindset in order to survive. (see Southwest Airlines, Skywest, Allegiant Air, Alaska Airlines/HorizonAir ). Each of these has a different business model, but they all, along with WestJet ,share the same entrepeurial spirit that makes them responsive to their customers as well as financially successful.
Right on Brad! Not surprising from Air Canada but all the same unbelievable! We are a region to contend with and need to let Air Canada know that we are not second class citizens. With the amount of investment in Edmonton over the last few years and the projection for the short and long term, including at Edmonton International Airport, we need committed business partners and stakeholders, not the same old rhetoric from years gone by!
Brad, having worked with you in the past, I’m a huge supporter of you, your reasoning and thoughtful approach. I’m going to respectfully offer a somewhat long-winded comment on this issue, that differs somewhat from what I’ve seen to-date.
A manufacturer wanting a distributor in a distant territory identifies 2 regional centres each with target populations of 1.x million, each with a powerful distributor. In each case, there is some opportunity for draw from the other regional market, but each distributor has carved out their region and fights against the other to represent all relevant suppliers in the entire combined territory. This often makes it quite inconvenient both for suppliers and customers.
In another territory, the manufacturer has a distributor that has aligned with a former competitor. Each has recognized that competing for the small catchment area around their headquarters will win them some small incremental revenue, but when they join forces, they become attractive to suppliers on an international level. The distributors’ cooperative efforts allow them to attract suppliers with broader appeal, effectively building their market size beyond the simple additive amount. For suppliers, instead of making a decision between the two each serving 1.x million, they now have one-point access to a combined market of 4 million+.
On the world scale, this industry’s suppliers are not overly interested in markets serving 1.x million; there are so many world-class centres serving bigger populations, on which they can focus their efforts. But when a market surpasses 4 million, with ambitions to cooperatively access even more, they play on a different level.
We should be proud of Edmonton. It is a fantastic city, with under-recognized and under-appreciated depth in innovation, arts & culture, facilities, recreation, parks, and on and on. The Oilers and Flames / Eskimos and Stamps and supporters of each can compete with one another. That’s good and healthy. But if this province, and in fact all of Western Canada is going to compete internationally, Edmonton and Calgary, YEG and YYC need to drop the gloves and work cooperatively. Despite the positive characteristics each have, we truly don’t impact on a world scale individually. The sooner we admit this, capitalize on the respective attributes of each, and provide solutions that will draw people to the region (Western Canada) – the sooner all of us in Western Canada will recognize the benefits.
Picture Alberta 50 years from now if YYC and YEG are still competing with one another to get people from Alberta to not fly from the other airport. Now picture it if egos are dropped and each sits at the same table with the shared goal of captivating the world.
It’s going to take time and money, but the results will be world-class and worthwhile. I’m ready to chip in.
Fully respect your comments, and we cooperate with Calgary on many, many initiatives to make a stronger Alberta … but not when it comes to air travel.
In your parable, if Supplier #1 chooses to serve the region through another location, then that is fine. That’s a decision, and we can move on with other suppliers. But to vacate a market while preventing any new suppliers from moving in is a form of “squatting” that prevents access, service and choice in the vacated market.
Competition and innovation make a stronger economy, not protectionism and squatting. Edmontonians and Edmonton businesses want access, choice and service. If Supplier #1 isn’t providing it, then get out of the way so Supplier #2 can come in to fill the demand in the market.
Agreed, Brad. My parable has other holes, too, and besides, cannot be directly compared to the complex world of air transport; it was just meant to encourage looking at the issue from a different angle. In my view, the important thing is to get these two entities thinking and working together.
I know your personal thinking is toward long-term results, and thoughtfully and strategically detailing the interim steps required to reach the big picture in time. Keep on marching forward – EEDC is stronger because of you.
This was a lovely blog ppost