A union that represents Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge flight attendants says it “deeply regrets” a decision by the company to temporarily lay-off even more of its members in response to the Covid-19 crisis. There are now a total of 6,800 flight attendants at the Canadian carrier who have been put on an unpaid “off duty status” – around two-thirds of its total flight attendant workforce.
Yesterday, Air Canada said it would reduce capacity by between 85 – 90 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, standing down a total of 15,200 employees and furloughing approximately 1,300 of its managers. The reductions will take effect on April 3 and Air Canada says they are only intended to be temporary.
“Our members have been through so much in the past few months as a result of COVID-19, and to see so many lose their jobs because of it is nothing short of heartbreaking,” commented Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“We will keep fighting for our members who continue to fly and making sure those who are facing layoffs get the support they need in the weeks and months ahead,” he continued.
Lesosky also said the union continued to fight for personal protective equipment (PPE) for the flight attendants who continue to fly. He would like to see flight members equipped with long-sleeve disposable gowns, fit-tested N95 masks, and fitted gloves for all flights.
CUPE previously said it was an “insult” to flight attendants that the airline had not yet provided them with appropriate PPE for the threat posed by Covid-19 while working in the confines of an aircraft cabin.
Air Canada had previously refused to change its in-flight service before backing down and drastically cutting back its offerings so as to reduce the amount of time flight attendants had to interact with passengers. Progress that had been made, however, “does not go far enough” according to the union.
Some senior executives at Air Canada will forego all of their pay, while others will see reductions of between 25 – 50 per cent. The airline is targeting $500 million in savings through a cost reduction programme and has suspended its share repurchase program.
Air Canada is still looking into a wage subsidy program announced by Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday and further details aren’t expected to be available until later this week.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.