COVID-19: Air Canada scrubs all flights to China until April 10

News provided by CTV News – link to full story and updates

The Canadian Press – Staff Published Tuesday, February 25, 2020

MONTREAL — Air Canada is extending its cancellation of all flights between Canada and China to April 10 due to the COVID-19 epidemic, following the lead of its U.S. counterparts.

The announcement comes nearly a month after the airline first halted direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

It extends the suspension by nearly six weeks, as the virus known as COVID-19 spreads from China to some three-dozen countries, infecting more than 80,000 people and causing at least 2,700 deaths.

Air Canada says it is also scrubbing daily non-stop flights between Toronto and Hong Kong from its schedule until April 30 because of reduced market demand. The carrier says its ongoing daily flight to Hong Kong from Vancouver will accommodate customers originally booked on the Toronto-Hong Kong route.

Air Canada said last week it was bracing for a rough first quarter as the effects of the viral outbreak and the continued grounding of its fleet of Boeing 737 Max jets bite into sales.

It joins all American passenger airlines that typically fly to China in cancelling flights to the mainland into the spring, with U.S. carriers suspending routes until late April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.

Thunder Bay curlers Rick Lang, Krista McCarville, Ashley Sippala on Bearskin flight that crashed Monday

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and update

Six passengers and two crew members were onboard when the plane left the runway Monday in Dryden

CBC News · Posted: Feb 25, 2020

A plane crashed after it left the runway during take off at the Dryden Regional Airport on Monday. (City of Dryden)

The Northern Ontario Curling Association confirmed to CBC News Tuesday that Thunder Bay curlers Krista McCarville, Ashley Sippala, and Rick Lang were among the passengers onboard a Bearskin Airlines flight that went off the runway Monday in Dryden, Ont..   

None of the six passengers and two crew members onboard suffered life-threatening injuries when the plane, which was headed to Sioux Lookout, left the runway during take-off roll at the Dryden Regional Airport shortly after 4 p.m. on Feb. 24.

McCarville, Sippala, and Lang were among the passengers. All three are fine, the curling association said, although Lang was treated in hospital for minor injuries and has since been released.

McCarville recently skipped Team Northern Ontario at the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which took place in Moose Jaw, Sask., earlier in February. Sippala plays second on the McCarville rink.

Ontario Provincial Police said one other passenger was taken to hospital with minor injuries. 

Dryden Regional Airport manager Tiffany Coffey said on Tuesday morning the plane “became disabled off the side of the runway, 150 metres from the threshold, due to an aborted take-off on the initial take-off roll.”

Coffey said the runway was re-opened at 8 p.m. that night, after the aircraft was removed, and the runway was inspected for debris.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the cause of the crash, and said an investigator is being deployed to the site on Wednesday.

TSB will deploy an investigator to Dryden, Ontario, following a runway excursion

Provided by Transportation Safety Board of Canada/CNW

WINNIPEG, Feb. 25, 2020 /CNW/ – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) will deploy an investigator tomorrow to the Dryden Regional Airport, Ontario, following a runway excursion that occurred on 24 February 2020. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

TSB deploys an investigator to the Montréal Trudeau International Airport, Quebec, following an incident during the taxi phase

Provided by Transportation Safety Board/CNW

DORVAL, QC, Feb. 25, 2020 /CNW/ – The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is deploying an investigator to the Montréal Trudeau International Airport, Quebec following an incident during the taxi phase of an Air Canada aircraft after landing. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Air Canada announces establishment of Airframe Maintenance Centres of Excellence with AAR in Trois-Rivières and Avianor in Mirabel

Provided by Air Canada/CNW

MONTREAL, Feb. 24, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada has entered into letters of intent with each of AAR Aircraft Services Trois-Rivières ULC (“AAR”) and Avianor Inc (“Avianor”) regarding long-term agreements for airframe maintenance, subject to completion of its planned merger with Transat, A.T. These long-term agreements would enable each of AAR and Avianor to develop Airframe Maintenance Centres of Excellence in Quebec for the aircraft types within their areas of expertise, both stimulating new investment in aerospace in Quebec and creating more high-quality aircraft maintenance jobs.

The larger combined Airbus A330 fleet of Air Canada and Air Transat would enable Air Canada to move wide-body A330 maintenance work for both airlines from abroad to AAR in Trois-Rivières, in addition to maintaining and expanding AAR’s airframe maintenance work in Quebec on the A320 family, including all new A321 neo aircraft.

In addition, Avianor would establish a new Centre of Excellence for Air Canada’s new Airbus A220 fleet (formerly the Bombardier C-Series) in Mirabel, adjacent to Airbus’ manufacturing facilities.

The letters of intent are subject to completion of final agreements which will include terms generally applicable to airframe maintenance agreements of this scale.

AAR Aircraft Services – Trois-Rivières, Quebec

AAR currently performs airframe maintenance work in Trois-Rivières on Air Canada’s existing Airbus A320 fleet and Embraer E190 fleet (which is being phased out). 

Air Canada and AAR have entered into a letter of intent that, subject to completion of the Transat merger by Air Canada, requisite Board of Directors’ approvals and completion of final agreements, evidences the parties’ intent to enter into a 10-year renewable agreement for airframe maintenance of both Air Canada’s and Air Transat’s fleet of Airbus A330 and A320 family of aircraft (including the new A321neo) in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

AAR intends to make the necessary facility infrastructure investments in Trois-Rivières to accommodate the new wide-body A330 work of the combined Air Canada and Air Transat fleets, given that there would be sufficient volumes of heavy maintenance work to support such an investment and to develop a Centre of Excellence. Through this agreement, it is expected that incremental aerospace jobs will be created in Trois-Rivières and AAR’s new capabilities should enable it to attract airframe maintenance work from other operators of the A330.

“From our very first project in Trois-Rivières, we’ve seen a strong commitment to quality, safety and operational performance,” said Rich Steer, Senior Vice-President, Operations at Air Canada. “With our largest hub a short distance away, we’re excited to have a trusted partner like AAR with a similar commitment to excellence, and also proud to be increasing heavy maintenance work in Quebec, especially on wide-body aircraft. This contract for additional work in Trois-Rivières represents a long-term investment in increased airframe maintenance in Quebec.”

“We are honoured to work closely with a highly regarded carrier like Air Canada for so many years and to be chosen as their maintenance provider for the A330 and A320 family fleet types,” said Chris Jessup, Chief Commercial Officer, AAR Corp. “AAR is proud to support the Canadian economy and to grow our overall footprint in Trois-Rivières, especially for the A330.”

AAR Aircraft Services is a full-service aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider, wholly-owned and operated by AAR Corp. with over 290,000 sf of facilities in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and Windsor, Ontario, along with facilities in the United States.  AAR took over Premier Aviation’s facilities in Trois-Rivières and Windsor in 2017. Since inception in 2002, the Trois-Rivières facility has experienced a steady growth of clients and services in general maintenance overhaul, modifications, refurbishment and paint requirements. In 2012, the Trois-Rivières facility started to perform MRO services for some of Air Canada’s Embraer fleet, including painting and supporting backshops. AAR expanded Trois-Rivières MRO competencies in 2017 by performing all MRO services on Air Canada’s Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. In September 2017, Air Canada awarded a 10-year contract to AAR for the maintenance of its 125 Airbus A320 and Embraer E190 single-aisle aircraft at the AAR facilities in Trois-Rivières, contributing to the continuance of 350 specialized jobs. This work was transferred to Quebec from AAR’s Duluth, Minnesota facility.

Avianor Inc. – Mirabel, Quebec

Air Canada and Avianor have entered into a letter of intent that provides for a 10-year agreement for airframe maintenance of Air Canada’s new fleet of Airbus A220 aircraft in Mirabel, Quebec. The agreement is subject to completion of Air Canada’s planned merger with Transat, A.T., and completion of final agreements. Air Canada has a firm order of 45 A220s with options for an additional 30 aircraft. Its initial aircraft entered into service in January 2020.

Avianor is well progressing in its study phase to construct a new 250,000-square-foot hangar in Mirabel in close proximity to the A220 manufacturing facilities of Airbus Canada (formerly the Bombardier facilities) in order to strategically position itself in the heavy maintenance, modification and completion of narrow-body aircraft and other key aircraft programs. The Air Canada work will position Avianor to attract airframe maintenance work from other A220 operators, as well to encourage other suppliers of the A220 to consider establishing operations nearby, thereby contributing to the establishment of a North American centre of excellence in Mirabel. 

Air Canada’s Senior Vice-President, Operations, Rich Steer, stated, “We have been very pleased with the work performed in Quebec by Avianor on Air Canada’s fleet over the last years. This contract assures Air Canada of a quality solution for our Airbus A220 heavy maintenance needs in Quebec through Avianor’s extensive and proven capabilities in this field.”

“This extended relationship with Air Canada shows the scale of technical support that Avianor offers in this competitive marketplace. To build great projects we always need to be surrounded by key players such as Air Canada and it goes without saying that we are extremely proud of today’s strategic announcement. We are thrilled to be working with Air Canada, in support of their expanded fleet and are grateful for their confidence. With years in the industry, we are confident in our ability to provide world-class quality, genuine partnerships and proven customer support while allowing ourselves to envision an enviable Centre of Excellence which could eventually regroup a variety of services such as maintenance, engineering, certification, education and training capabilities under one roof,” said Benoit Hudon, President & CEO, Aerospace & Ground Transportation Division of DRAKKAR, majority owner of Avianor.

Avianor was recently acquired by the Drakkar & Partner’s Aerospace & Ground Transportation Division. Avianor specializes in maintenance, modifications and aircraft completion, including a highly skilled internal engineering support team. Avianor has positioned itself as a vertical integrator in the marketplace. The company occupies over 200,000 square feet of hangars, repair shops, fabrication facilities and warehouse space at Mirabel Airport (YMX) and employs more than 350 people.

In November 2019, Avianor reached a highly important milestone and has received Transport Canada (TCCA) approval to add the Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 to its maintenance capability list.

Swoop Names Bert van der Stege, Head of Commercial

Provided by Swoop/CNW

CALGARY, Feb. 24, 2020 /CNW/ – Swoop is delighted to announce Bert van der Stege will be joining its operations as Head of Commercial effective Feb. 24. With more than 20 years of international aviation experience, Bert brings a wealth of knowledge, most recently from his position as Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at the Halifax International Airport Authority.

Bert van der Stege headshot (CNW Group/Swoop)
Bert van der Stege headshot (CNW Group/Swoop)

“I am thrilled to have Bert as part of Swoop’s executive team,” says Steven Greenway, President, Swoop. “Bert has built an incredible reputation for himself within our industry and with his strategic and innovative approach to airline operations, I know he will help us continue to deliver on our mission to make air travel more affordable for Canadians.”

Bert will oversee Swoop’s Network and Planning, Pricing and Revenue, Distribution and Sales, and Marketing with a focus on helping the airline drive revenue and growth. He will join Swoop’s executive team and report directly to Steven Greenway.

“Swoop is changing the way Canadians travel and allowing more of them to see and experience the world,” says Bert van der Stege. “I am excited to join an airline that is disrupting the industry while making a positive impact on the lives of its travellers.”

Having studied in a variety of countries with a Bachelor and a Master of Science in International Business, Bert continued to travel the world extensively in management and executive roles with Lufthansa German Airlines, RwandAir, First Air and most recently the Halifax International Airport Authority. He is a natural fit to lead Swoop’s Commercial operations.

Statement – Minister of Transport celebrates National Aviation Day

Provided by Transport Canada/CNW

OTTAWA, Feb. 23, 2020 /CNW/ – The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, issued today this statement regarding National Aviation Day:

“Aviation is an integral part of Canadian life. From visiting friends and family, to travelling for business, or getting goods to market, Canadians rely on a safe and efficient aviation system to support and sustain our vibrant communities. Today, we celebrate our rich history in aviation and our world-renowned reputation as a global leader for aviation safety.

“February 23 marks the anniversary of Canada’s first powered flight in Canada, when, in 1909, pilot J.A.D. McCurdy flew the Silver Dart nearly 800 metres in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. This first flight over 100 years ago paved the way for today’s dedicated aviation and commercial pilots to connect people and move goods safely and quickly across our country and around the world.

“Canada has one of the safest air transportation systems in the world. This high standard of safety could not be achieved without the airline and airport employees, flight crews, engineers, air traffic controllers and maintenance workers who help maintain the safety and security of aviation for all Canadians.

“On this National Aviation Day, I am pleased to invite our youth to discover the fascinating world of aviation and encourage them to consider a career in Canadian aviation, where there are many interesting and rewarding fields of work to explore.

“Please join me in celebrating the many people throughout Canada’s aviation history and in the aviation community who were instrumental in shaping Canada’s aviation safety, strength and success.”

Canadian Air Navigation Specialists reach tentative deal

Provided by Unifor/CNW

OTTAWA, Feb. 21, 2020 /CNW/ – Unifor Local 1016 members who work as Canadian Air Navigation Specialists have reached a tentative agreement with Nav Canada.

“Congratulations to the bargaining team in securing a deal that includes strong gains for Air Navigation Specialists,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor was built to defend good jobs. This deal provides our members with increased job security and improvements to wages.”

The tentative agreement will be presented to the members for ratification votes over the course of the next two weeks.

“The committee worked swiftly and diligently in achieving this tentative agreement,” said James Walker, President of Local 1016-CANSA. “The foundation we have created in this round of bargaining will serve members well for agreements to come.”

Unifor Local 1016 represents more than 280 air navigation specialists across Canada.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

SOURCE Unifor

Airbus to invest up to $1.4-billion in A220 passenger jet program this year

News provided by The Globe and Mail – link to full story

ALLISON LAMPERT, MONTREAL, REUTERS – FEBRUARY 20, 2020

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, left, and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury take a tour of the Airbus A220 assembly line in Mirabel, Que., on Feb. 20, 2020.GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Airbus SE plans to invest between 500 million euros and 1 billion euros (C$715-million and C$1.43-billion) this year on its A220 passenger jet program, chief executive Guillaume Faury said on Thursday at the company’s A220 factory in Mirabel, just outside Montreal.

Earlier in February, Airbus raised its stake in the A220 program – known as Airbus Canada – to 75 per cent from 50.1 per cent after teaming up with the government of the Canadian province of Quebec to buy Bombardier’s 33.5 per cent stake.

With the deal, Bombardier exited the civil aviation industry and bolstered the European planemaker’s position in its ongoing competition with U.S. rival Boeing Co.

The A220, previously known as the C Series, is a 110-130 seater aircraft, a little smaller than Airbus’s mainstay A320 jet.

Airbus has been ramping up production of the A220 towards its maximum monthly capacity rate of 10 at its facility in Mirabel and to a monthly rate of four in Mobile, Ala., targets it hopes to reach by the middle of this decade.

Production in the United States has become more important for Airbus since the U.S. government slapped tariffs on jets made in Europe for purchase by U.S. airlines following a years-long tariff dispute.

Manitoba plans to transfer ownership of northern airports to First Nations

News provided by the Vancouver Sun – link to full story and updates

THE CANADIAN PRESS – February 20, 2020

Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Manitoba Assembly of Chiefs speaks during the Assembly of First Nations’ 38th annual general meeting Regina, Sask., Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Manitoba government plans to transfer ownership of northern airports and ferries to First Nations communities. The province has signed a preliminary deal with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs that the two sides are hoping will lead to some of the assets being transferred as early as this summer. MARK TAYLOR / THE CANADIAN PRESS

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government has signed a preliminary agreement to transfer ownership of northern airports and ferries to a First Nations authority — a move that Premier Brian Pallister called a concrete example of reconciliation.

“The path to genuine reconciliation must include genuine economic opportunities, and we are walking that path,” Pallister said Thursday just before signing the memorandum of understanding with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Details of the deal are still to be worked out, however, such as how much money either side might pay. The assembly’s grand chief, Arlen Dumas, said the federal government will have to provide some type of resources as well.

Despite the lack of detail, the two sides were confident some of the province’s 23 northern airports and four ferries, along with a ferry compound, will start to be transferred as early as this summer to a new First Nations airport authority.

The deal will ensure First Nations communities, some of which are not connected to the south by road, have control over a vital lifeline for food, medicine and other goods.

Pallister and Dumas have not always seen eye to eye. Dumas criticized Pallister’s announcement in 2018 that the province was going to ban nighttime hunting with spotlights.

The two men also have very different takes on the current blockades in support of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia. Dumas has praised the blockades as an important show of solidarity. Pallister has called for the blockades to be removed, and has said his own government may seek a court injunction against future protests in the province.

But Dumas said there is a feeling of trust between he and Pallister, and the Tory government has been willing to work on deals to expand First Nations forestry opportunities and more.

“I must say that working with a Conservative provincial government that had come in (in 2016) as I’d become grand chief has been quite a unique opportunity to do things in innovative ways,” Dumas said.

“We’ve made successes in regards to the forestry company in my area … (and) we’ve done things with (treaty land entitlement) land transfers.”

Dumas and Pallister have also clashed over the province’s $540-million plan to build outlets to prevent flooding on Lake St. Martin.

Dumas has said in the past that the province did not adequately consult First Nations communities on the project, while Pallister has insisted the government has fulfilled its duties.

“I can tell you that we are having conversations on a multitude of these issues, but this (memorandum) is an example,” Dumas said.

“How can we replicate this example in that (Lake St. Martin) case that’s going to look out for everybody’s interest?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 20, 2020