Airport Chaos: Here are the 5 main reasons for this predictable chaos

The chaos at airports continues with more canceled or delayed flights, lost luggage and diverted passengers. But what happened that put the Canadian airline industry at the bottom of the field? The newspaper make the point

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Last weekend, Air Canada snagged the unenviable title of Worst Airline in the World. According to FlightAware, a service that tracks every flight around the world, the airline ranked first in the number of delays, a total of 700, two-thirds of its flights.

For its part, Montreal-Trudeau Airport is sixth in the world in terms of the number of delays, and Pearson in Toronto is second only to Guangzhou in China.

Bad management

For air world specialist Mehran Ebrahimi, this poor performance comes as no surprise given the federal government’s mismanagement of the air sector.

“No one has done worse than us in the developed world in terms of post-pandemic planning,” the professor at the University of Quebec’s Montreal Department of Management (UQAM) said during an interview with The newspaper.

During the months of inactivity, the airlines implemented massive layoffs and some of the workers did not return.

“We should have helped airlines retain their staff and expertise. Instead, it has taken the federal government more than 14 months to intervene, and again very clumsily. In the same period, Air France received 9 billion euros and Luthansa 14 billion,” analyzes Mr. Ebrahimi.

While the aviation sector is recovering faster than expected, the shortage of staff is affecting all sectors, from baggage handlers to customer service representatives and customs to assistants who clean aircraft, for example.

But for the Unifor union, which represents customer service workers at Air Canada, the country’s largest airline could do more to attract workers.

“There was a shortage problem before the pandemic, but now it has gotten worse. Air Canada is really in tow,” said Olivier Carrière, deputy director at Unifor Quebec.

Uncompetitive salaries

These agents, who often have to deal with passenger anger, are hired at $16.50 an hour, very little to deal with the stress in the current context.

“Every call center offers more than that. How are we supposed to attract people?” he wonders.

Listen to Patrick Déry’s business column with Yves Daoust on the microphone on QUB radio:

In recent weeks, traveling through the chaos at airports has become a stress factor for passengers. Canada is not alone in this situation, but how does it compare to other countries? What explains the current problems? The newspaper studied the problem with specialists.

1) Poor planning by Canadian airlines

Canadian airlines also bear their responsibility in the current situation with poor flight planning and staffing. “They are guilty of publishing a schedule that they cannot meet today. They are victims of their own mistake. You underestimated the current wave. If we expect to provide that much capacity, we should make sure we can deliver,” believes Jacques Roy, professor of transportation management at HEC Montréal. Air Canada has since grounded 150 daily flights over the summer.

2) A high-speed recovery in the aviation industry

Last spring, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted a return to the pre-pandemic context… in 2024. Other specialists, on the contrary, believed that the recovery would come much sooner. “I’ve seen faster recovery just by talking to people around me. In winter everyone wanted to go south. So don’t be surprised if the wave of exits increases,” said Jacques Roy, professor at HEC Montreal.

3) A global domino effect

London, Lisbon, Paris, New York, Chicago… Not only Montreal experiences the situation we know at the airport. Each small bug causes a cascading series of problems. In Paris and elsewhere in France, airport workers are on strike demanding inflation-track wages. While still in Paris, a technical defect on Saturday led to the departure of 15 flights … without luggage. At Heathrow, London, a problem with the airport’s fuel system wreaked havoc again last weekend.

4) Lack of staff in all trades

For example, the Canada Border Services Agency has half the number of airport officers it had before the pandemic (from 600 to 300 in Toronto and from 260 to 200 in Montreal). Air Canada works with 80% of its customer service staff. For the pilots, the situation is even more dramatic. There are 1,200 missing persons in Canada, according to aviation specialist Jean Lapointe, he confirmed on 98.5 FM. Meanwhile, some staffs like porters are working hard to provide the service. “People work hard. Everyone works overtime. And even if people don’t notice, things are getting better,” said one of them protocolyesterday.

5) Once again incompetence and negligence in Ottawa

The federal government, blamed for the chaos in passport and employment insurance files, is also blamed for the chaos at the airports under its jurisdiction. “The federal government could have developed programs to keep pilots and air traffic controllers on the job in order to be able to plan better with customs. We should have done it like the Germans, offering employee development programs and training them and investing in our infrastructure. They were so lax, it’s really absurd,” says specialist Mehran Ebrahimi.

  • Hear Olivier Bourque, business journalist at Marc-André Leclerc’s mic on QUB radio:

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