New health rules hurt air carriers

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New health rules hurt air carriers


Air Canada is in turn making further downsizing following the immediate effect of the latest government health restrictions against COVID-19.


Air Canada has announced a 25% reduction in its planned capacity for the first three months of the year.


© Cole Burston Getty Images via Agence France-Presse
Air Canada has announced a 25% reduction in its planned capacity for the first three months of the year.


The air carrier on Wednesday announced a 25% reduction in its planned capacity for the first three months of the year, a decision that will result in a cut of just under 2,000 employees at the rate of 1,700 from Air Canada and 200 others from its regional transport subsidiary Air Canada Express.

The company attributed the cuts to governments and the consequences of their “new pre-departure screening test requirements, travel restrictions and provincial lockdowns.” “Since the federal and provincial governments implemented these tougher travel restrictions and other measures, in addition to the quarantine requirement in place, we have seen the immediate impact on short-term bookings and taken action. difficult decision, but necessary, to readjust our schedule again and to rationalize our cross-border, West Indian and domestic connections, in order to better take into account the expected demand and to slow the depletion of the net capital ”, argued in a press release from presses its General Vice-President and Head of Commercial Affairs, Lucie Guillemette.

The announcement brings Air Canada’s total employees “currently on layoff or technical layoff” to more than 20,000, she said, and will leave just 20% of flights in the sky. that the company was offering on the same date last year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Air Canada thus joins the list of Canadian airlines which say they immediately felt the impact of the new Ottawa health rule requiring, in particular, since last week, the presentation of a screening test result. COVID-19 negative for the right to board a flight to Canada.

Same at WestJet and Air Transat

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Last week, WestJet announced a 30% reduction in its planned capacity in February and March and a new load-shedding of around 1,000 employees. “Immediately after the federal government announced on December 31 these tests in addition to maintaining a 14-day quarantine, we saw a significant reduction in new bookings and an unprecedented number of cancellations. “, Then declared its president and chief executive officer, Ed Sims, whose offer, at the beginning of the year, will be 80% lower than the same period last year. “The travel industry and its customers are once again victims of a government policy that lacks consistency and consistency,” he lamented.

Asked Wednesday by The duty, Air Transat also reported that the addition of new health requirements had “a significant impact on reservations” and that we would adjust the supply and staffing levels as needed. Last December, the tour operator had 92% fewer passengers than the same month last year and this number “remains extremely limited for the moment,” said by email a spokesperson for the company, who spoke. relieved of 75% of its usual workforce.

Dialogue of the deaf

Canadian airlines have been complaining for months from the complete insensitivity of governments, particularly that of Ottawa, to the commercial drama they have been experiencing since the onset of the health crisis. We would like in particular, like other countries, to be entitled to special financial assistance on the scale of the shock suffered. There are also calls for less stifling health rules that could, for example, include screening tests on arrival in Canada and the possibility of a shortened quarantine in the case of negative results.

Again Tuesday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA in English), the voice of carriers on a global scale, denounced the lack of balance in the health response of governments, especially in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and in Japan. “They have chosen measures that will prevent the trip,” lamented its CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

In this case, several unions are united with their employers. “Without a shadow of a doubt, the inconsistent policy of the Trudeau government towards our industry has played a major role in these layoffs,” said Wednesday in an email to Duty Wesley Lesosky, the representative of the 9,700 Air Canada flight attendants who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), to which their sisters and brothers from WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing also belong. “For months, the federal government has been promising aid, which gives us hope, changes its mind, and then disappoints us again. ”

The day before, they are associations of pilots from other trade unions representing 300,000 workers in the sector who “urged the federal government to provide [leur] devastated industry a direct and significant financial contribution, comparable to that which other countries have made to their own sector. ”

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