The operator of Canada's air-traffic control services said on Tuesday a higher-than-expected number of flights in the country would allow it to give airline customers a $60 million refund, a first for the privately held, not for profit corporation.

Nav Canada, which some regard as a model for air traffic control in the United States, said in a statement the refund to customers like airlines and private plane operators would represent 4.6 per cent of projected revenue for its fiscal 2017, which ends on Aug. 31.

Stronger-than-expected traffic during the year will allow Nav Canada to reduce its base rates for fiscal 2018 by 3.5 per cent, the statement said. That makes the second year in a row that Nav Canada is reducing its base rates.

Rates vary by the size of a plane and the distance flown by the aircraft, said company spokesman Ron Singer.

"Traffic growth over the past year has been higher than expected, considering the actual GDP growth rates of major world economies," said Nav Canada president Neil Wilson, in the statement.

Nav Canada, which covers its operating costs through user fees and its capital costs through bonds, is considered by some as a potential model for privatizing air traffic control in the United States, which is now run by the Federal Aviation Administration.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has indicated it is in favor of privatization.

Bill Shuster, who chairs the U.S. House Transportation Committee, has proposed a similar structure to Canada's.

In fiscal 2016, Nav Canada reported revenue of almost $1.4 billion and net income of $37 million. Profit is usually plowed back into improving infrastructure and services.