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    Air Canada announced today it will slash its transatlantic fare structure for non-membership group travel effective Dec. 1.

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    Background: Air Canada announced today it will slash its transatlantic fare structure for non-membership group travel effective Dec. 1.

    The new tariff system to be filed with the Canadian transportation Commission provides a new low return ??? of 165 for groups of 150 or more travelling between London and Montreal. A group of 100 will pay $196 each and a group of 50 will be charged $226.

    Similar fares will be available between other Canadian cities and 10 European centres served by Air Canada.

    The present lowest excursion fare for a non-affinity group is $274. The non-membership clause enables a travel agent to assemble groups of various sizes solely for the purpose of flying to a destination.

    Provided the passengers stay there for a minimum of 14 days, they may return at their convenience.

    Unlike charters, there is no restriction such as group membership six months prior to departure and no need to purchase around transportation, accommodation or meals.

    The new tariff package includes rates for two periods. During the peak summer season, the three group rates between London-Montreal will rise to $204, $235 and $265 respectively.

    Air Canada President J. R. Baldwin said the airline expects that ??? pleasure traffic will move to group travel to take advantage of the lower rates.

    He said he hoped this would not result in increased rates for individual fares but added that the airline is faced with rising costs. He declined to make a long-term policy statement.

    In part, Air Canada was prompted by the introduction of jumbo-jets to make lower fares available, Mr. Baldwin said. It would be necessary to sell 90 per cent of the seats on every flight to make the new plan worthwhile.

    Air Canada's action follows recent announcements by Alitalia and CP Air that their Canada-Rome fares for the off-season would be lowered drastically.

    In the face of their decision, it was expected that the International Air Transport Association would meet so its members could agree on new lower transatlantic fares.

    However, Mr. Baldwin said there is no sign of an agreement among IATA members.

    Although Air Canada would prefer to act within the association, he added, perhaps its new rate proposals would provide leadership and incentive for a consensus among other carriers.

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