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I would like to fly from Denver, CO to Regina SK in March (specifically to Regina on March 24 and returning to Denver on March 26).

I've tried the normal travel search engines (Kayak, Expedia, etc) and all the fares are over $500. In general, I have found traveling to Canada to be well over $500 even on relatively direct flights between Denver and Calgary/Vancouver/Edmonton.

Is there something about landing fees or international flfight that drives up the cost of these routes?

Any hints on better ways to make this more economical? Driving is quite long and there are no easy interim way points where I could fly then drive.

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    There are many more factors so this is not an authoritative answer but Canadian airports have high fees with low local competition. Even domestic flights are unaffordable. – blackbird Dec 17 '15 at 22:14
  • I've always believed this was due to high subsidies to US airports, unlike Canadian airports. – Vince Dec 17 '15 at 22:46
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    Not just the airports, but the airlines as well: Air Canada has a monopoly or near-monopoly on many routes, especially those to smaller airports. – jpatokal Dec 17 '15 at 23:31
  • Also, your return flight is on a Saturday. – fkraiem Dec 18 '15 at 1:25
  • I'm curious whether you came up with anything, flying in Canada is expensive, especially to the "flyover provinces," where there is little demand and no economy of scale to drive down prices. – Azor Ahai Feb 17 '16 at 7:02
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The prices I see for Denver to Regina on your dates (526 USD on Air Canada, via Calgary) are similar to what I find for flights of similar profiles in Europe and Japan, so this is not a Canadian thing. For example for Bordeaux to Copenhagen (Air France, via Paris) I find 565 EUR (611 USD), and for Aomori to Fukuoka (ANA, via Osaka) I find 59100 JPY (482 USD).

In all three cases, one factor which significantly drives prices up is that the return flight is on a Saturday. Flying on the following Sunday or Monday always results in fares about 20% lower.

Also, as mentioned by jpatokal in the comments, the fact that Air Canada has a monopoly on Regina airport probably also increases prices. I do not know enough about Canadian airports to find an airport with more competition to compare, but in the second case above, one can find lower fares by flying from Toulouse instead of Bordeaux because more airlines serve it (e.g., 279 EUR with British Airways).

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    That's rather interesting; my experience in flying within the US is that Saturday flights are usually cheaper. – Nate Eldredge Dec 18 '15 at 3:00
  • @NateEldredge Yes, different route probably have different high-demand days... – fkraiem Dec 18 '15 at 3:20
  • 60,000 JPY for Aomori to Fukuoka is off-the-charts ridiculous, that's the full fare and you're seeing it because domestic flights in Japan only go on sale 3 months in advance. The fare is Y15,400 for a random date in February, and even the Shinkansen is only Y33,800. – jpatokal Dec 18 '15 at 3:52
  • @jpatokal Firstly, in order to make the comparison meaningful, I quote price for round-trips, which in this case means two separate one-way. – fkraiem Dec 18 '15 at 4:01
  • @jpatokal And even for a one-way, there's no way you can find ¥15,000 for Aomori- Fukuoka, as there are no direct flights so you have to buy two flights priced independently. Indeed, they cost about ¥15,000 each, and the grand total is the ¥60,000 I quoted. – fkraiem Dec 18 '15 at 4:04

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