01/30/2018 18:39 EST | Updated 01/30/2018 18:44 EST

WestJet's New Halifax-Europe Flights A Reminder Of How Canadian Travellers Get Fleeced

One-way flights start at $199 right now.

A Boeing 767 jetliner, belonging to WestJet Airlines, lands at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Oct. 19, 2017.
Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press
A Boeing 767 jetliner, belonging to WestJet Airlines, lands at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Oct. 19, 2017.

Many East Coasters are happy about WestJet's announcement that it will begin daily non-stop flights from Halifax to Paris and London this spring.

Not only will travellers not have to fly in the opposite direction to Toronto or Montreal to get to Europe, but the flights will start at $199 one way (without taxes), which is a pretty good deal for a flight across the Atlantic.

The trips from Halifax will start on April 29 to London and May 31 to Paris and will be part of the airline's summer schedule.

Some on Twitter were pretty thrilled about the new service.

Many people on the Halifax Flight Deals & Travel Specials Facebook group were also pumped up. Several tagged their friends and family and hinted that a trip to Europe could be good for an upcoming birthday.

But a few online brought up the obvious question — that right now, this transatlantic flight is cheaper than a lot of flights of a similar or longer distance within Canada.

"Wow. Flying direct to Paris and half the price of flying to Vancouver. WTG [way to go]," wrote Madeline Rhodenizer on a post in the same Facebook group.

Sarah McDonough on Twitter was also puzzled.

"@WestJet great price for flights between Halifax and Paris, but why does it cost me double to fly from Halifax to Edmonton?" she tweeted.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press
A passenger heads through the outer part of the security area at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, N.S. on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

If you book strategically, a round-trip flight from Halifax to Edmonton doesn't literally cost double, but it was still $611 on a search of WestJet's website Tuesday.

A round-trip flight from Nova Scotia's capital to Paris from June 4 to 13 turned up a fare of $462.78 with taxes.

And a flight to Vancouver and back, which is also shorter than to Paris, is about $740 if you get a deal.

WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart told HuffPost Canada in an email that the great offers on the new Europe flights are introductory fares meant to drum up business.

But that doesn't change the fact that flying within Canada is often pricier than going elsewhere.

Carriers face higher airport fees than in the U.S.

Part of the problem is that Air Canada and WestJet are the only two options for longer domestic flights, meaning there's a lot of demand and not a ton of supply, as flight-deal app Hopper explains.

Canada has very little competition compared to some other countries, so there's little incentive to lower fares. But when Air Canada and WestJet fly internationally, they compete with several other carriers.

According to a 2016 Montreal Economic Institute study, high airport charges are also to blame.

The Canadian government owns most of the country's big airports, so airport authorities have to pay rent that can constitute up to 12 per cent of their revenues, according to the study.

More from HuffPost Canada:

And the airport authorities pass on their costs to carriers.

A quarter of the price difference between fares in the U.S. and Canada can be chalked up to airport charges like landing and terminal fees, according to a 2012 Conference Board of Canada report quoted in the study.

Stewart told HuffPost Canada that fares can also depend on the date, how far in advance you book your ticket and the popularity of the route.

"Pricing does not always correlate to distance flown," she wrote.

Well, that's not surprising. But it doesn't make it less depressing.

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