New rules affect Jays' travel

TORONTO -- A rules change concerning charter airlines carrying sports teams in foreign countries is causing problems for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays begin a four-game series in Detroit on Friday and had intended to fly to Windsor, Ontario, before crossing the border by bus.

"Logistically, it's a little easier for us," traveling secretary Mike Shaw said. "We have no issue flying to Detroit, we just thought it would be a little easier flying to Windsor."

The Blue Jays fly with Miami Air International, a Florida company that also provides charter service to five U.S.-based NHL teams, including the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Under new rules that came into effect in the United States last month and were quickly copied in Canada, charter carriers are no longer permitted to make domestic flights in foreign countries, meaning Toronto's plans to fly with Miami Air to Windsor were denied by Transport Canada.

The new rule also prevents charter airlines from making multiple stops in the course of a team road trip, something that had been allowed for years.

The Blue Jays initially considered taking a bus to Detroit instead but decided against it.

Last Friday, the team applied to fly into Detroit rather than Windsor, and from there to New York and St. Petersburg, Fla., the final two stops on their trip. A decision on those plans is expected Tuesday, Shaw said.

Unless it is resolved, the rule change could disrupt the coming NHL season and affect travel for the NBA's Toronto Raptors. Last week, Miami Air was told to cancel nearly 60 flights to Canada in September for NHL preseason games.

Richard Peddie, chief executive of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, said last week that the rules "represent a potentially big problem for our teams."

The Blue Jays have just one more road trip after this one. Shaw said he's unsure what will happen next season.

"We're at the end of our contract [with Miami Air]," Shaw said. "We're going to put out requests or proposals from other airlines, including Miami Air and we'll see at that point which way we'll go."