Experts said on Wednesday that Air Canada’s cuts to regional routes would have long-term consequences after the outbreak, with the airline announcing 1,700 job cuts and further reducing operations in response to new bandwidth COVID-19 restrictions.
The 25 percent reduction in service will affect up to 200 employees on Air Canada’s express carriers, the company said Wednesday morning.
This week Air Canada announced to airports in Atlantic Canada that it would cut additional routes in the region and suspended all flights on Cantor, NL, Goose Bay, NL and Fredericton until further notice. It suspended passenger service on January 23 for Yellowknife, Prince Rupert, BC, and Kamloops.
Said Lucy Killemet, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer In a statement Increased travel restrictions by the federal and provincial governments have had an immediate impact on the company’s bookings.
With the reduction, Air Canada’s capacity for the first quarter of 2021 will be 20 percent of its capacity in the first quarter of 2019, the company said.
“While this is not the news we hoped to announce earlier this year, we encourage Health Canada to have already approved two vaccines and to expect the Government of Canada to vaccinate the majority of eligible Canadians by September.” Gillemet said.
“We look forward to bringing our business back to normal and bringing back some of the more than 20,000 employees we currently have.”
‘We can’t flip a switch’
But Ian Lee, an associate professor at the Sprat School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa, said it was not that easy.
There may be some who think, “Oh, well, we’re in crisis, flipping the switch like electricity after our home has a power outage.” It’s not going to be like that. “
Lee said the curve will be slow and painful.
“Those planes need to be taken out of storage,” he said. “They’s going to be tested. … All pilots need to be reconsidered, rearranged under the rules, to be identical with flight attendants.
Areas such as the North BC and the sea are unlikely to see a resumption of service because it was “for some time” prior to COVID.
Monet Basher, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association, said in a statement that the effects of service cuts on communities in the region would be felt for years to come.
“We can’t flip a switch to restart air service when it comes to the other side of this epidemic,” Basher said. “We have a long, hard way ahead of us in rebuilding air access to our region.”
The airline said it would contact affected customers to offer options such as a refund or alternative travel arrangements.
Kamloops mayor ‘beyond disappointment’
Ed Raduski, managing director of Kamloops Airport, said he expects the cuts to be in effect by March.
“Our concern is … what kind of impact will the reduction in this service have on workers who have to travel by plane to support their families domestically,” he said.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said he was “beyond disappointed” to see the city’s only direct flights to Vancouver canceled. Kamloops is about 250 kilometers northeast of Vancouver.
“When you have places like the BC Lottery Corporation that have their provincial headquarters in Kamloops, it is incomprehensible that you will not have air access to move staff back and forth,” he said.
Demand for carriers has been declining since the introduction of the new Canadian rules on January 7, and passengers have been wrestling with confusion. Passengers are required to test negative for the novel corona virus before boarding a flight to the country.
Privately-run WestJet Airlines said last week it would reduce capacity, with table cuts, such as furrows, layoffs, unpaid leaves or reduced hours for about 1,000 employees.
A spokesman said in an email that the federal government was “disappointed by the airlines’ decision to cancel more regional routes.”
“COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented situation in the aviation sector,” said Allison St. Jean, a press aide to the new transport minister Omar Alcabira. “We are fully grasped by the issue of how badly the aviation sector has been affected by COVID-19, and we are committed to assisting the aviation sector of Canada.”
Joyce Carter is the Chairman and CEO of Halifax International Airport Authority, whose business has shrunk from 17 carriers and 46 locations to two carriers and four locations.
He said a role for the central government is clear.
Carter, chairman of the Canadian Airports Council, said: “The airline is a federal federation. The airport is owned by the federal government and we manage it on their behalf.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce also renewed its calls for federal support for the sector.
“The impact of today’s news on capacity reduction and further labor cuts at Air Canada is very worrying,” Perrin Beatty, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “As there are cuts in regional airline across Atlantic Canada and across the country, the situation is more than just an aviation industry problem – our country will be cut off from others in the pockets of danger.”
Beatty said the government needs a resume plan for the trip that includes a quick test.
Jerry Diaz, president of the Uniformed Union, said Air Canada’s move “continues to leave airline workers
Disappointed with the lack of action by the federal government. “