Canadian government sets up working group to study investment in the country’s airports – part two

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'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose' (the more things change, the more they stay the same), wrote the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in 1849, and it could be the French-Canadian motto where airport ownership is concerned.

Nothing has changed since a national airports system came into being in the early 1990s, after which the main Canadian airports came under the auspices of non-shareholder, not-for-profit stakeholder boards.

To be fair to that arrangement, the vast majority of those airports are quite happy with the status quo and rebuffed a 2017 Trudeau government investigation into privatising them, even before it got off the ground.

But the strange thing is that Canada is home to half a dozen very large municipal pension funds, which invest, in some cases quite heavily, in foreign airports. They do have limited opportunities to do so domestically, but have not really had any incentives.

Now a 'working group' will be set up, by way of a Federal Budget mandate, to identify (inter alia) opportunities for investment in the country's airport infrastructure by Canadian pension funds.

That might also lead to enhanced co-operation between the two parties for foreign investment, but that is not part of the philosophy yet.

This could be a turning point for both the funds and the airports, but there is a long way to go - and 30 years of inertia to break.

This report also contains an overview of the funds and their foreign investments.

This is part two of a two-part report.

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