Home » Ailing aviation sector pleads for support as Ottawa considers new journey restrictions

Ailing aviation sector pleads for support as Ottawa considers new journey restrictions

by newsking24

As the federal authorities prepares to impose extra restrictions on worldwide journey, the aviation business is warning its long-term survival is in danger if the federal government does not step in quickly with a sector-specific monetary support package deal.

Industry representatives and union leaders painted a bleak image of the state of the business Thursday as they pleaded with MPs on the House of Commons transportation committee for direct support for airways and different air sector companies. 

Mike Mueller, senior vice-president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, mentioned Canadian companies within the civil, defence and aerospace sectors have misplaced over 40 per cent of their income on account of lowered worldwide journey brought on by COVID-19.

Almost all corporations are reporting varied ranges of shutdowns, and over 50 per cent have laid off workers, he mentioned.

“While the government’s emergency measures have been appreciated and helpful — they’re just not enough,” mentioned Mueller. 

Mueller warned that Canadian corporations would battle to compete sooner or later with companies from international locations like France, the U.S., and Germany — which have spent billions of {dollars} on bailouts for airways and associated corporations.

WATCH | New journey restrictions could possibly be on the way in which in Canada:

The federal authorities retains hinting at stricter journey restrictions to curb the unfold of latest coronavirus variants inside Canada. 1:58

“The future is bleak for aerospace if its leading customers — the airlines — can’t buy its products and services,” mentioned Mueller. “The effects of COVID-19 have cascaded throughout the supply chain.”

Industry leaders did not provide a selected sum of cash they need from the federal government in new support for the sector. 

Pilot positions misplaced

Rob Giguere, chief govt officer of the Air Canada Pilots Association, mentioned his union represents 700 fewer lively pilots than it did earlier than the pandemic. Hundreds of pilots have been furloughed, laid off or chosen to retire. Those who are nonetheless flying are taking house a median of 65 per cent of their wage, Giguere mentioned. 

Air Canada, which lower its employees by 20,000 staff in June, is burning by means of nearly $15 million every day at the same time as passenger ranges stay at 10 per cent of pre-pandemic ranges, Giguere mentioned.

“The airline is smaller today than it was when I started my career as a pilot in the 70s,” Giguere mentioned. 

Air site visitors controllers are additionally struggling, mentioned Doug Best, govt director of the Canadian Air Traffic Controllers Association. He mentioned 100 air site visitors controllers had acquired layoff notices from NavCanada, the not-for-profit company that operates Canada’s civil air navigation system.

WATCH | Hotel quarantine might assist discourage non-essential journey, public well being professor says:

Prof. Karen Grépin says international locations most profitable within the struggle in opposition to COVID-19 have adopted a two-week quarantine for all travellers. 4:09

Best warned {that a} “brain drain” might happen if these highly-skilled staff, who’re in demand world wide, find yourself leaving the nation for jobs overseas.

Industry woes worsened in current weeks when the federal authorities launched a brand new requirement that every one travellers searching for to enter Canada present proof of a unfavourable COVID-19 take a look at taken 72 hours earlier than departure. 

That new rule had a right away affect on bookings, with airways reporting not less than 50,000 journey reservation cancellations within the two weeks after it took impact. 

Calgary-based WestJet laid off employees and slashed routes after the testing requirement was introduced. Montreal-based Air Transat introduced Wednesday it was suspending all flights out of Toronto as a result of journey restrictions and different measures had negatively impacted bookings.

The federal authorities is contemplating extra journey restrictions as issues rise about new, extremely contagious variants of the coronavirus. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated this week that extra journey restrictions are being thought-about as issues rise in regards to the emergence of latest, extremely transmissible variants of the coronavirus first recognized within the U.Ok., South Africa and Brazil. Those measures could possibly be introduced as early as Friday.

One of the choices into account is necessary lodge quarantines for incoming travellers — an extra burden that specialists say would function a significant disincentive for leisure journey. At the second, incoming travellers should quarantine for 14 days however can achieve this at their very own houses.

Giguerre mentioned the federal government must take a “thoughtful” method to any extra measures, and be aware of any “unintended consequences” that additional reductions in journey might have on Canada’s skill to import items, lots of which come through the cargo holds of passenger jets.

“While public health measures may be required to fight the pandemic, further restrictions — without direct government financial aid — are sure to take an already precarious airline industry and devastate it,” he mentioned. 

Support contingent on ticket refunds, Ottawa says

A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland mentioned the federal government is dedicated to supporting Canadian airways and staff.

Kat Cuplinskas mentioned the sector had acquired over $1.5 billion by means of the Canada emergency wage subsidy. The federal authorities additionally introduced $1 billion in help for airports and smaller airways in its fall financial replace.

Any additional help, Cuplinskas mentioned, can be depending on the airways refunding cancelled flights, restoring regional routes lower to cut back prices and defending jobs throughout the sector. 

“Maintaining a vibrant, competitive Canadian air sector and Canadian airlines is a priority,” Cuplinskas mentioned.

WATCH | Tighter journey controls, vaccine diversification wanted, says immunity job pressure co-chair:

Canada wants tighter journey restrictions to guard Canadians from COVID-19 variants and must also have quite a lot of vaccine choices as some international locations struggle over tight provide, says Dr. David Naylor, co-chair of Canada’s Immunity Task Force. 7:27

While $1.5 billion by means of the wage subsidy could look like rather a lot, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Canada (IAMAW) consultant Derek Ferguson mentioned the wage subsidy hasn’t labored in addition to the federal government supposed. 

Ferguson, whose union represents many various kinds of air transport staff together with safety screeners, mentioned most employers did not high up the additional 25 per cent of the backed wage, as the federal government had requested. He additionally mentioned many employers solely used the wage subsidy to pay lively staff after shedding many employees, and that modifications to this system made final summer season made this system cost-prohibitive for a lot of employers.

Ferguson mentioned 10,000 IAMAW staff are at present out of labor.

“Any support must be worker-centric,” mentioned Ferguson. “If there are no workers left in this industry when the pandemic eases, then there will be no industry.”

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