Government of Quebec Regional Air Access Program
In May 2022, the Government of Quebec announced a plan to ensure that all travelers can benefit from affordable and frequent air travel in the province.
Effective June 1, 2022, the maximum round-trip fare is $500 for passengers flying to and from remote regions. Then, the excess cost of the airfare will be paid by the Quebec government.
To obtain a cheap airfaire ticket, the flight must have as departure point or final destination the airport of Montreal, Quebec or Saint-Hubert, regardless of the number of stopovers if any.
The regions eligible for the Regional Air Access Program (RAAP) are :
- Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine
- Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Chibougamau
This price is for all Quebecers as well as travelers from outside the province.
The maximum amount for a one-way trip is $250, even if there are one or more stopovers during the trip.
The discount is applied at the time of ticket purchase. The maximum purchase is three $500 round-trip tickets or six one-way tickets per year, between April 1 and March 31.
Despite the bad press this program has received in recent months, there are still some good deals to have. For example, I had to decide:
- Do I take a 6-hour bus ride for $145 from Saguenay to Montreal with a transfer in Quebec City or a1-hour direct flight for 190 $ from Saguenay to Montreal ?
In my personal situation and for the time savings, I preferred to fly through the RAAP even if it cost $45 more.
Eligible airlines and destinations
The airlines have financial assistance to pay the difference in airfare. The average cost of a ticket negotiated with each carrier is determined by reference to the pre-pandemic cost.
At this time, these air carriers are eligible:
- Pascan Aviation
- Air Canada
- Air Creebec
- Air Inuit
- PAL Airlines
- Air Liaison
They serve the following cities:
|Saguenay – Bagotville||Baie-Comeau||Sept-Îles||Schefferville||Fermont||Port-Menier||Havre-Saint-Pierre|
|Natashquan||La Romaine||Chevery||Whale’s Head||The Snuffbox||Saint Augustine||Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon|
It should be noted that a carrier must serve a destination in a remote area throughout the year in order to receive financial assistance.
For example, Air Canada only serves the Magdalen Islands in the summer. Therefore, she is not eligible to offer $500 tickets. However, if Air Canada gives a firm one-year commitment to the Quebec government, it may be entitled to the compensation.
Here are the eligible routes, cities and airlines for the $500 ticket.
Examples of $500 airplane tickets
$ 500 ticket Montreal - Magdalen Islands with Pascan
Pascan is one of the airlines offering a $500 ticket to the Magdalen Islands from Montreal.
When searching on their site, you must choose the PAAR option. The cost per trip is $249.97.
Saguenay - Montreal
On the Air Canada website, click on the blue banner at the top of the search results, on View Eligibility.
Then, in the window that opens, click on the Apply discount button.
When reviewing the flights, it will be possible to see that the discount has been given.
For example, a round-trip flight from Saguenay to Montreal with the RAAP program costs approximately $381.
Blanc-Sablon - Montreal
One of the longest eligible trips is Blanc-Sablon to Montreal. The one-way fare is $250, even if there are 3 stopovers. That’s a big difference from the regular rate of $1,597.
The search on the Air Liaison website is similar to the one on Pascan. Look for the PAAR option.
To further reduce the cost of airfare
One trick we really like is to reimburse the cost of an airline ticket with points.
Simply charge the cost of the airline ticket to a credit card offering rewards points and then apply the points to the purchase. A credit is then applied to the card account.
For example, redeeming 95,000 HSBC Rewards points for a $500 airline ticket with Pascan could reduce the bill by $475. In total, your flight would cost you $25!
Here is an example of a plane ticket purchased with Air Transat, but this tip is valid for any expense with an airline.
These 95,000 HSBC Rewards points can be earned with the current welcome offer:
Here are some credit card issuers that have programs with travel points:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- HSBC Rewards
- TD Rewards
- BMO Rewards
- NBC Rewards
- CIBC Aventura
- Desjardins Bonidollars
- MBNA Rewards
- RBC Rewards
- Scotia Scene+
To learn more, please see the article on saving on airfare here.