Treq: a cooperative redefines air transportation in Québec
For the past several years, aviation professionals have been working on this project. Heading up the initiative is Serge Larivière, founding member and president of the Aéroport international de Mont- Tremblant.
The goal is to serve the more outlying regions of Québec and allow them to develop. The announcement of the creation of this regional transportation cooperative, which closely followed the announcement of the Air Canada decision to pull out of 30 regions, arrives at a good time.
Mont-Tremblant – Îles-de-la-Madeleine: there and back for $350 sounds like a dream, right? Well, it’s actually planned as the new reality for Quebecers starting next spring. The possibilities are huge and will finally sound the closing bell on the monopoly exercised by private companies in the field of civil aviation, to the detriment of the regions.
“Mission accomplished for the first stage,” says Serge Larivière. “The response from the regions, the media and Quebecers is extraordinary. We have a lot of support and congratulations. So the interest is there. That was the key ingredient, because without tht, there was no project. It was necessary to bring together the regular Quebecers and people from the regions with regard to the price of the tickets.”
The Aéroport international de Mont-Tremblant, an example to follow
In an interview with Tremblant Express, Mr. Larivière wanted to emphasize the colossal work that has been done in Mont-Tremblant and the Upper Laurentians since the end of the ‘90s.
Unique in America, the Aéroport international de Mont-Tremblant provides a new door to the Upper Laurentians and has allowed, thanks to prices that defied all competition, the region to attract a clientele from Toronto and New York that has become essential to the ongoing development of our region.
“Bravo to us!” he exclaims. “The work we’ve done here builds a foundation for carrying out this project and will permit solution of the aviation problem throughout Québec. Without these shared efforts, which are purely Laurentians, we would not be talking about Treq today.”
Québec is lagging behind
In looking at world aerial transportation statistics from the IATA, Mr. Larivière realized that there was five times as much aerial traffic per capita in Ontario as in Québec. The only difference between the two provinces: the price of plane tickets.
“What we say runs counter to what’s said by aerial transportation firms which claim that prices are high because there’s not enough demand. For us, there’s low demand because prices are too high. If one could offer a quality of service and prices equivalent to those in the rest of Canada, Quebecers would be there.”
Why a cooperative?
In Québec, several cooperative movements have been successful, notably in finance with the Mouvement Desjardins and in agriculture with Sollio. For Serge Larivière, the idea of using this model for regional aerial transportation made all kinds of sense.
“A COOP is people who get together to solve a problem. It allows combining the best of two worlds: the drive of private companies, and the noble mission of public ones,” he emphasizes.
A first fleet of five Q400s
The founding members of Treq are currently finalizing the details to reserve a first fleet of five Q400s, the 78-seat planes made by Bombardier Aéronautique.
They go for $25 million US new, but luckily for Treq, the current market favours buyers and it’s possible to find them for $5 million US each.
“These planes are extremely high-performing,” Serge Larivière explains. They can fly 14 hours a day. It’s the world’s top-performing machine for regional aviation. That’s why the rest of Canada uses it,” he notes.
Everything is possible
It’s not easy to foretell the future. According to Serge Larivière, the tourist industry as a whole has a good possibility of returning to a semblance of normalcy next summer. And from then on, everything will be possible.
“We had a purely tourist-related project before Covid. It was a tourist circuit that allowed people to do two days of flights in different regions such as Mont-Tremblant, Charlevoix, Percé, the Chic Chocs and even Niagara Falls. Its name was Treq, except the ‘T’ stood for ‘tourisme’ and not ‘transportation,’” he adds.
To be continued….
Guillaume Vincent257 Posts
Rédacteur et journaliste de profession, Guillaume Vincent a fait ses armes au sein de l’agence QMI. Il s’est joint au Tremblant Express en 2014. Promu en 2017, il y assume depuis le rôle de rédacteur en chef et directeur de la publication. / A writer and photojournalist by profession, Guillaume Vincent won his stripes in the QMI agency. He joined Tremblant Express in 2014. Promoted in 2017, he has been editor-in-chief and co-publisher since then.