A national carbon tax that doesn’t take into account the unique challenges faced by airlines could irreparably harm Canada’s aviation industry, WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky warned Tuesday.

“We’re obviously working closely with government — they need to be very careful that they don’t kill an industry that is so important to economic growth,” Saretsky told reporters after delivering a keynote speech at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region conference in Calgary. “It (a national price on carbon) needs to pass the reasonableness test.”

Last week, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Canada that the country will have a national price on carbon emissions by the end of 2016. In addition, Alberta’s carbon tax — set to take effect Jan. 1, 2017 — will impose a 5.1 cent per litre levy (rising to 7.75 cents a litre in 2018) on jet fuel purchases for flights that originate and end within the province (such as Calgary to Edmonton).

B.C., which has had a carbon tax in place since 2008, already imposes a 7.83 cent per litre levy on jet fuel purchases for intraprovincial flights.

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