Layoffs Announced; Layoffs Yet to Come?
Last week, Air Canada, faced with lower revenues
and bleak forecasts, gave notice to 300 ramp and cargo workers,
that, effective the end of this month, they would be free to look
for employment elsewhere.
Air Canada says the cuts are temporary, and will represent a
three- to twelve-month no-payday period for those affected. The
airline denied that these are just the first of the oft-rumored
layoffs to encompass perhaps 4000 more. It did, though, say that it
is working toward reducing costs -- and that portends reduced hours
for those who remain.
The Toronto Star, in a Susan Pigg article early this week, says
that Air Canada pilots, who are allowed to work 78 hours a month,
are currently flying 73, 74 hours; and retiring pilots aren't being
Air Canada may also initiate formal talks with its
unions, to try to convince union leadership that the airline is in
trouble, and to see if the unions will volunteer to help out, a la
UAL and AMR.
Capt. Don Johnson, president of the Air Canada Pilots
Association, was quoted in the Star as saying, "I equate it to
what's happening at American Airlines, where Don Carty is saying:
`You can come and talk to us and maybe have some input into the way
things go here in the next six months, or we can go into
(bankruptcy) protection and someone who doesn't even know the
airline industry will decide what kind of pay cut you take. ...I
think those are the kinds of discussions that we would be looking
In the meantime, Air Canada's regional airline,
Jazz, is cutting routes, steadily downsizing its service. A recent
move, eliminating the flights between St John's, Newfoundland, and
Labrador, has drawn particular ire. The mayor of Labrador's largest
town, John Hickey, was widely quoted after the discontinuance of
that route, saying, "We feel betrayed. As far as I'm concerned, to
hell with Air Canada."
Residents, whose infrequent trips cannot support regular
service, are starting to look to the government to force the
carriers to provide it. That puts a double strain on lawmakers: on
the one hand, most of the constituents don't want to have to
subsidize air travel for Labrador and Newfoundland residents; on
the other hand, the government doesn't want to appear 'heartless,'
effectively stranding those would-be travelers, until the prices
rise enough to justify continuation of service. The airlines don't
want to appear unreasonable, and actually charge what those routes
cost -- if not enough people are using them now, it's easy to see
that even fewer would pay more...
Many, unaware of the economics involved, feel as Mayor Hickey"
"...we in Labrador got screwed."