Posted at 6:00 am
Despite Air Canada’s planned flight cancellations, long queues at airports don’t seem to be getting any shorter. The industry believes it will likely take a drop in volume at peak times for orders to bounce back.
At Montréal-Trudeau, the employees responsible for aircraft fueling, aircraft maintenance and baggage unloading are at their wits’ end. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), which represents them, sees no delay in the short term.
“Other providers will have to do that [des réductions de services], says the union’s Québec coordinator, Michel Richer. Nobody wants to touch international flights, the most profitable ones. It is understandable. »
IAMAW represents approximately 1,000 Air Canada workers who perform these functions and hundreds more at service providers such as Swissport and ATS (Airport Terminal Services).
Citing airport congestion and a number of pitfalls, particularly in relation to the workforce, Air Canada has decided to suspend 77 daily return flights (a total of 154 flights) in July and August. That is more than 15% of the planned capacity. Four routes (Montreal-Pittsburgh, Montreal-Baltimore, Montreal-Kelowna and Toronto-Fort McMurray) are temporarily suspended.
However, international flights are not affected. Air Canada gave no further details on Friday about how it plans to reduce “peak hours” – like mornings and late afternoons – to give a rest to airports like Montreal-Trudeau, where the situation is steadily worsening.
Will this free up the lines we currently have at the airport? I do not think so. Look at Heathrow [Londres]Schiphol [Amsterdam] and Frankfort [Allemagne]. It’s no better.
Michel Richer, Quebec Coordinator of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Aviation expert and McGill University lecturer John Gradek is eager to learn more about Air Canada’s planned load shedding to gauge the impact of the company’s decision. One thing is certain: without changes in international air travel, there will be no “major impact,” says Mr. Gradek.
“The high season in Montreal and Toronto starts around 5 p.m.,” emphasizes the expert. If we don’t release the peak times, it will be difficult to influence the printing. »
Last way out
Due to the rise in canceled or delayed flights, long queues and bags piling up upon arrival, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) claims to be in discussions with airlines about canceling or rescheduling flights. The aim is to ease the pressure at peak times – when volumes would exceed pre-pandemic levels, according to the nonprofit.
Transat AT says it has not received any request to reduce its capacity at the moment. WestJet also issued an update on Thursday to note that its summer capacity was at 79% of pre-pandemic levels. These are not new cancellations. At Montreal-Trudeau, volume is 45% lower than two years ago, according to the Alberta carrier.
If Air Canada has been hit harder than its Canadian competitors in terms of delays and cancellations, it’s because the company has been very ambitious both internationally and in Canada.
Air Canada has been very aggressive in these two markets with its summer capacity. It is also the country’s largest airline. Approximately 90% of passengers transiting through Montreal and Toronto are Air Canada passengers.
John Gradek, aviation expert and lecturer at McGill University
Air Canada had delayed more than 40% of its flights as of Friday afternoon, according to FlightAware data. The Canadian airline ranks 10th among the largest airlines in the worlde Rank for the number of delayed flights.
I’m looking forward to
At the moment it is difficult to know who will accept ADM’s requests for load shedding. It is the carriers who have to make the announcements.
According to Transat AT’s latest financial documents, companies such as WestJet (157%) and Air France/KLM (103%) planned to provide more summer capacity in the transatlantic market than in summer 2019. D Others, such as Lufthansa (97%), were close to face value.
Many of these flights depart from Montreal-Trudeau and Pearson (Toronto) airports. Some of the load shedding could come from these beams.
The refund issue
Consumer advocates are asking Air Canada to compensate hundreds of thousands of passengers whose summer flights are canceled. Air passenger protection regulations, which went into effect in 2019, require compensation – separate from refunds – ranging from $400 to $1,000 for a cancellation or delay “in the control of the airline”. By announcing the cancellation of more than 15% of its flights for the months of July and August, Air Canada has hinted that affected customers could be reimbursed. There was no talk of compensation. As of Friday afternoon, Air Canada did not immediately respond to questions about whether refunds or compensation would be offered to customers.
The Canadian Press
- Percentage of flights to Montréal-Trudeau canceled in the past week, the highest rate among any airport in the country