Airlines Protest Toronto's Rising Fees

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Airline officials are warning Toronto that spiraling fees at Pearson International Airport might prompt them to bypass Canada's largest airport. Eugene Hoeven, of the International Air Transport Association, said last week he's concerned Pearson's $4.4 billion expansion is over budget and airlines will be left footing the bill through landing fees and other charges. Toronto is already at least the 11th most expensive airport in the world. It costs an airline $8,560 to land a fully loaded Boeing 747-400 there, an increase of 142 percent since 1999. Tokyo's Narita Airport is the most expensive at about $16,000 for the same aircraft. Toronto officials angrily deny the project is over budget but they do admit that airlines will pay the cost, whatever it is. "While we recognize that fees have increased, that was part of the understanding: that the infrastructure investment that needs to happen has to be paid for," said Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesman Peter Gregg. Most of the money is slated for a new $3.6 billion terminal, which was to open this month but has been delayed until at least next March. Hoeven said rising costs could result in some airlines reducing service or skipping Toronto entirely. For instance, a European carrier that doesn't fly to Toronto often might choose to land elsewhere and force its passengers to switch to an airline with which it has an alliance for the final leg of the flight.