Hundreds of airline employees in quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19

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

ERIC ATKINS TRANSPORTATION REPORTER, PUBLISHED MARCH 30, 2020

A small number of travellers use kiosks to check-in for Westjet flights at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Sunday, March 15, 2020. Darryl Dyck/The Globe and MailDARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Hundreds of Canadian airline employees are in quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19 and at least 14 have tested positive for the virus, prompting calls for better protection and training from the unions representing flight attendants and pilots.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents flight attendants, is calling on airlines and the federal government to provide flight crews with face shields and gowns in addition to better training on the safe use of masks and gloves to prevent more employees from contacting the virus. Airline employees need access to COVID-19 tests with quick results and greater separation from passengers at airports, said the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents pilots at WestJet, Air Transat and several smaller domestic carriers.

“Air crews are taking significant personal risks by continuing to report for duty. We need immediate action from the government so that air crew exposure to COVID-19 is minimized,” Tim Perry, a WestJet pilot and vice-president of the association, said.

Wesley Lesosky, president of the CUPE Air Canada Component, which represents Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge’s flight attendants, said the union knows of some cases of COVID-19 among flight attendants, but the total number is not available yet. “Too many of our members are risking their health and their safety carrying out their duties to bring Canadians home,” Mr. Lesosky said by phone from Vancouver.

“They’re incredibly concerned that they could bring the virus home. They’re incredibly concerned that they are finding out so late [that] somebody on their flight” had the virus, he said.

Flight attendants are required to go into a 14-day paid period of quarantine if there is a confirmed case of the coronavirus on their flight. There have been 188 flights in Canada – 122 international and 66 domestic – with a COVID-19 case from March 13 to March 20, according to the federal government. The vast majority were operated by Air Canada. The company declined to say if any employees had tested positive.

Based on rough estimates of eight flight attendants for each international flight and four on a smaller domestic plane, there could be at least 1,000 flight attendants who were quarantined a result.

WestJet said seven of its employees have been infected with COVID-19, but declined to say what part of the business they worked in. At Air Transat, five flight attendants and two pilots have tested positive, and more than 200 of the Montreal-based carrier’s employees are in quarantine.

“Whenever there is exposure, the entire [cabin] crew is quarantined,” said Christophe Hennebelle, a spokesman for Air Transat, which has suspended its international commercial flights and is operating so-called repatriation flights on behalf of the government for Canadians stranded abroad. “It is not possible to know the contamination source with certainty,” Mr. Hennebelle said. “It might be on board, during a layover or in Canada.”

Sunwing Airlines said “privacy reasons” prevented it from disclosing if any of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The airline referred The Globe and Mail to a government of Saskatchewan website that said 23 flights in Regina or Saskatoon between March 5 and March 21 had a confirmed COVID-19 case on board. Three of these flights belonged to Sunwing.

Transport Canada was not immediately able to say how many airline employees had COVID-19, nor did it respond to questions about making protective gear mandatory for cabin crews.

Flight crews are an essential service and exempt from mandatory quarantines that apply to people who have been outside the country. However, doctors, dentists and other medical professionals will usually refuse to see airline employees because of their travel history and the risk they may have the virus, said Mr. Lesosky of CUPE, which represented about 15,000 Canadian flight attendants overall before the start of the pandemic.

The airlines say they provide gloves and masks to flight crews, and disinfect the airplanes, and are in compliance with Transport Canada and Public Health of Canada regulations.

“We scrupulously follow instructions from the public health agencies, such as questioning the passengers or disinfecting the planes, and protection kits, including masks and gloves, are available aboard every plane,” Mr. Hennebelle said of Air Transat.

Morgan Bell, a WestJet spokeswoman, said employees are not required to wear masks, but they are permitted to do so, in addition to any other personal protection equipment they wish.

CUPE: Air Canada Flight Attendant Union Responds to Sweeping Layoffs Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Provided by CUPE/Business Wire

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The union representing Air Canada flight attendants is deeply saddened to learn that the company will temporarily lay off approximately 3,600 of its members at Air Canada mainline, and all 1,549 of its members at Air Canada Rouge.

Earlier this week, the company announced it would significantly reduce flying capacity due to diminished demand and government-ordered border closures caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The layoffs announced today are effective until April 30, 2020 at the earliest, but the union is hopeful that conditions in the industry improve and allow the airline to begin bringing flight attendants back on-board.

“This has been the most challenging time any of us will likely ever experience as flight attendants,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents roughly 10,000 flight attendants at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. “Our members have been on the front lines of this crisis since day one, and it has been a tough journey ever since. Our hearts go out to all of our members, especially those who fell sick while doing their job.”

The union has confirmed that members being laid off – or facing “off-duty status” – will be able to collect Employment Insurance, and also access benefits. The union also pledged to assist laid-off members with their next steps, and to work diligently to bring them back once conditions in the industry stabilize.

More than 5,100 Air Canada flight attendants to be laid off amid massive COVID-19 slowdown

New provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

About half of flight attendants for main airline and Air Canada Rouge will be affected

Bethany Lindsay, Desmond Brown · CBC · Posted: Mar 19, 2020

The union representing Air Canada flight attendants confirmed more than 5,100 flight attendants will be laid off. (Air Canada)

Air Canada is set to lay off more than 5,100 members of its cabin crews because of a dramatic drop in flights related to the COVID-19 outbreak, CBC has learned.

According to a March 19 letter from Renee Smith-Valade, the airline’s vice president of in-flight service, says Air Canada has “no choice” but to cut staff, calling the move “difficult but necessary.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents Air Canada flight attendants, confirmed the news, saying the layoffs will affect about 3,600 Air Canada crew members and all 1,549 of its members who work for the airline’s Rouge subsidiary.

That represents about half of the 10,000 crew members currently employed at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge.

“This has been the most challenging time any of us will likely ever experience as flight attendants,” Wesley Lesosky, CUPE’s president of the Air Canada component, said in a press release.

“Our members have been on the front lines of this crisis since day one, and it has been a tough journey ever since. Our hearts go out to all of our members, especially those who fell sick while doing their job.”

Smith-Valade’s memo says that Air Canada’s planned flights for April have been cut by nearly 80 per cent as governments around the world have asked their citizens to stay home in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. She said she hopes the layoffs will only be temporary.

According to the union, the layoffs will be effective until at least April 30. Those affected will be able to collect employment Insurance.

Air Canada’s mainline flight attendants are based in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. 

Launch of Air Canada Rouge’s first international flights from YQB

Provided by Aéroport de Québec/CNW

QUEBEC CITY, Dec. 21, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada Rouge’s first international flight out of YQB flew to Cancún, Mexico this morning. Surrounded by a colourful decor and environment, passengers were treated to a warm welcome from Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB; David Rheault, Managing Director – Government and Community Relations at Air Canada; and Guy Marchand, General Manager – Eastern Canada Sales for Air Canada Vacations.

De gauche à droite :

Agents de bord, Air Canada Rouge
Jean-Luc Tremblay, chef de secteur des ventes – Québec
Stéphane Poirier, Président et chef de la direction de YQB
David Rheault, directeur général des relations gouvernementales et avec les collectivités chez Air Canada 
Père Noël et jeunes voyageurs 
Agents de bord
Gary Doucet, Chef d'escale, Air Canada (CNW Group/Aéroport de Québec)
De gauche à droite : Agents de bord, Air Canada Rouge Jean-Luc Tremblay, chef de secteur des ventes – Québec Stéphane Poirier, Président et chef de la direction de YQB David Rheault, directeur général des relations gouvernementales et avec les collectivités chez Air Canada Père Noël et jeunes voyageurs Agents de bord Gary Doucet, Chef d’escale, Air Canada (CNW Group/Aéroport de Québec)

“We are thrilled that Air Canada has chosen to strengthen its presence in Québec City by offering international flights from YQB. By improving its winter service and adding flights to sun destinations, the airline is responding to the needs and requests of people in Québec City,” stated Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB. “This announcement is the result of a successful and profitable partnership between Air Canada and YQB,” he added.

Air Canada Rouge’s flights to Cancún began this morning and will end on April 11, 2020. Flights to Punta Cana will begin on December 22, 2019, and end on April 12, 2020. These routes are flown by an Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321 in a 200-seat all-economy configuration.

FlightDepartureArrivalDay
AC 1776Québec City, 08:00Cancún, 13:00Saturday
AC 1777Cancún, 14:00Québec City, 18:30Saturday
AC 1772Québec City, 08:20Punta Cana, 13:50Sunday
AC 1773Punta Cana, 14:50Québec City, 18:30Sunday

“We are delighted to offer these non-stop services to our customers in Québec City so they can treat themselves to a winter getaway in Cancún or Punta Cana. We are adding these new routes to meet an anticipated demand from customers in Québec’s capital. We also hope to give them the chance to enjoy incredible vacations,” stated Mark Galardo, Vice-President – Network Planning at Air Canada.

Air Canada Completes Installation of Satellite Connectivity Across Full Air Canada Rouge Fleet

Provided by Air Canada/CNW

MONTREAL, Dec. 17, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada said today that Rouge Wi-Fi high-speed satellite-based connectivity provided by Gogo is now available across the entire Air Canada Rouge fleet of 65 aircraft that fly globally and across North America.

Air Canada Completes Installation of Satellite Connectivity Across Full Air Canada Rouge Fleet (CNW Group/Air Canada)
Air Canada Completes Installation of Satellite Connectivity Across Full Air Canada Rouge Fleet (CNW Group/Air Canada)

“Customers now can access Rouge Wi-Fi high-speed internet connectivity on their own devices whenever they are onboard an Air Canada Rouge aircraft anywhere in the world, giving everyone the ability to stay connected to email, surf the web, or stream their favourite movies and TV shows from services like Netflix and YouTube. We are excited to now offer fast, reliable wi-fi options onboard all Rouge aircraft for the increasing numbers of customers seeking connectivity when flying,” said Andrew Yiu, Vice President, Product at Air Canada.

Customers can choose from a selection of Wi-Fi packages to suit their requirements with starting prices of $8.50 CAD simply by connecting to the “Rouge Wi-Fi” network onboard and following the instructions.

In addition to the full Air Canada Rouge fleet, satellite based Wi-Fi is already available on all Air Canada Boeing 777s, and most Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s with the remainder to be completed early 2020. Air Canada Wi-Fi connectivity is also available across the carrier’s entire mainline narrow body fleet and the Air Canada Express Embraer 175 and Bombardier CRJ-900 fleets. Air Canada’s new Airbus A220 fleet which it begins taking delivery of before the end of 2019 will come equipped with satellite based wi-fi.

“Stink Fruit” Cargo Spoiled An Air Canada Flight

News provided by Yahoo Finance & Freightwaves

Benzinga October 9, 2019

An Air Canada Rouge flight returned to Vancouver after the Boeing 767-300’s cabin filled with the odor from a shipment of durian fruit – whose odor is often compared to rotting meat.

Details from the flight on Air Canada‘s (TSX:AC)  low-cost subsidiary emerged in the incident report provided to FreightWaves by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC) on October 8.  

The troubles arose shortly after the 767 took off from Vancouver International Airport on September 17 with 245 passengers and eight crew, destined for Montreal. Crew members first noticed a “strong odor” while the aircraft was at 7,000 feet above sea level, according to the TSBC report.

The flight crew leveled off at 25,000 feet to troubleshoot the problem after failing to clear the smell from the cabin. They then declared a PAN-PAN, indicating an urgent but not immediately dangerous situation, “donned their oxygen masks and returned to land” in Vancouver, the TSBC report said.

The durian shipment in the forward cargo compartment was identified as the source of the odor and removed from the flight. The aircraft then returned to service. No injuries were reported.

Final thoughts:

The incident aboard the Air Canada Rouge flight isn’t the first time durian has caused problems as a cargo. The smell from two metric tons led to a temporary grounding of a flight in Indonesia in November 2018. 

Needless to say, the airline probably will think twice before accepting a shipment of the prized but noxious fruit. 

Air Canada To Begin Year-Round Flights From Montreal to Bogotá, Colombia

Provided by Air Canada

  • Bogotá represents Air Canada’s 39th new route launched from Montreal since 2012, 12th new route since 2017
  • Complements Toronto-Bogotá service

MONTREAL, Sept. 18, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today announced the introduction of new year-round service between Montreal and Bogotá, Colombia beginning June 2, 2020. Flights will operate three times weekly onboard Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER aircraft offering a choice of premium and economy service.

Special introductory fares start as low as $795 round-trip, all in, and tickets are now available for purchase at aircanada.com or through travel agents.

Air Canada today announced the introduction of new year-round service between Montreal and Bogotá, Colombia beginning June 2, 2020 (CNW Group/Air Canada)
Air Canada today announced the introduction of new year-round service between Montreal and Bogotá, Colombia beginning June 2, 2020 (CNW Group/Air Canada)

“We are very pleased to offer the only non-stop, year-round flights connecting Montreal and Bogotá, two vibrant cities steeped in history and culture. This new route complements our existing Toronto-Bogotá service, and positions Air Canada as a significant player linking the growing markets between Montreal and Colombia’s capital and largest city. The addition of Bogotá represents Air Canada’s 39th new route launched from Montreal-Trudeau Airport since 2012, firmly illustrating our commitment to developing Montreal as an important, strategic hub. Bogotá is also strategically situated to allow for seamless travel across South America through Star Alliance partner Avianca,” said Mark Galardo, Vice President of Network Planning at Air Canada.

“For several years now, Aéroports de Montréal has been wanting to improve service from YUL to destinations in South America. While a flight to Sao Paolo will be inaugurated in a few weeks, Air Canada is doubling the stakes by adding this new direct connection to Bogotá, Colombia,” said Philippe Rainville, President and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal. “In addition to greatly facilitating air travel for members of Montreal’s very large Colombian community, this announcement once again affirms YUL’s role as a hub for international air traffic. We are confident that this destination will be extremely popular with travellers. And we thank our partner Air Canada who is sparing no effort to continue improving the range of destinations offered from Montreal.”

“This is a very exciting announcement. We are looking forward to connecting our capital city with Montreal, the global leader in digital art and creativity, which will further advance the growth of the creative industries sector in Colombia. This new route will also enable a greater number of Canadians to experience 21st century Colombia; a vibrant country that stands out for its opportunities in innovation and entrepreneurship, and for its unparalleled offer of sustainable tourism,” said Federico Hoyos, Colombia’s Ambassador to Canada.

“More excellent news for Montreal, its economic dynamism and international influence. The announcement of this year-round service between our city and Bogotá will be positive for Montrealers and we are delighted,” said Robert Beaudry, head of economic development, trade and housing on the City of Montreal’s executive committee.

“This new flight consolidates Montreal’s position as a hub, with openness and international accessibility. This is excellent news for developing the South American market, which has grown by more than 50% in recent years. Tourisme Montréal salutes the efforts of Air Canada. This new direct air link will undoubtedly be a tourism and economic success for Montreal, confirming its status as a gateway to Canada,” said Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal.

FlightDepartsArrivesDays of Week
AC1952Montreal 22:45Bogotá 04:15 + 1 dayTuesday, Thursday, Saturday
AC1953Bogotá 09:00Montreal 16:20Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

Flights are timed to optimize connectivity to and from Air Canada’s extensive network at its Montreal hub. In addition, flights are timed to connect to Star Alliance partner Avianca’s network to other destinations including Medellin, Cartagena, Cali, Lima, Cuzco, Guayaquil and Quito.

Customers can also collect and redeem Aeroplan Miles through Canada’s leading loyalty program when travelling with Air Canada, and eligible customers have access to priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounges, priority boarding and other benefits.

Air Canada / Air Canada rouge Winter 2019 Long-Haul changes as of 16 July 2019

News provided by RoutesOnline.com – link to full article

By Jim Liu – Posted 17 July 2019

Air Canada in the last few weeks filed additional changes to its long-haul operation for winter 2019/20 season, including service operated by Air Canada rouge. Latest adjustment as of 16 July 2019 as follows.

Montreal – Frankfurt 787-9 replaces A330-300 during following: 01DEC19 – 08DEC19, 18DEC19 – 05JAN20
Toronto – Frankfurt AC876/877 aircraft changes, 787-9 replaced by following:
27OCT19 – 30JAN20 777-200LR
31JAN20 – 27MAR20 777-300ER

Toronto – Vienna Planned seasonal frequency adjustment from 7 to 5 weekly unchanged. 787-8 replaces -9 from 27OCT19 to 04FEB20 (-8 previously scheduled for entire winter season)
Toronto – Zurich eff 27OCT19 787-9 continues operating (A330-300 previously filed 27OCT19 – 30NOV19)
Vancouver – London Heathrow 27OCT19 – 16DEC19 787-9 replaces 777-300ER (787-9 in W18 operated in November only)

Air Canada rouge changes:
Toronto – Bogota eff 03DEC19 Increase from 6 to 7 weekly, 767 operating (previously scheduled from 17DEC19)
Toronto – Cartagena eff 14DEC19 A321 replaces A319, increase from 2 to 3 weekly

Previously reported Mainline changes:
Calgary – London Heathrow Selected dates in Feb 2020 scheduled with 777-300ER aircraft, replacing 787-9
Montreal – Brussels eff 26OCT19 787-9 replaces previously filed -8
Montreal – Casablanca 
27OCT19 – 14NOV19 767-300ER replaces A330-300, 3 weekly
eff 07DEC19 Increase from 3 to 4 weekly for winter season

Montreal – Rome Routine seasonal suspension from 31DEC19 to 29FEB20; Previously filed 787-8 service to be replaced by following:
28OCT19 – 30NOV19 787-9
02DEC19 – 30DEC19 A330-300
01MAR20 – 27MAR20 A330-300

Montreal – Sao Paulo Guarulhos 
eff 11DEC19 3 weekly 787-9, new route
Montreal – Shanghai Pu Dong eff 27OCT19 787-9 continues to operate this route, replacing -8
Montreal – Tokyo Narita eff 27OCT19 787-9 continues to operate this route, replacing -8
Toronto – Dubai eff 27OCT19 Increase from 3-4 weekly to 5 weekly, 787-9 operating
Toronto – Milan Malpensa eff 27OCT19 Service converted from year-round to summer seasonal. Previously planned 3 weekly 767 in W19 cancelled 
Toronto – Mumbai 
eff 27OCT19 Seasonal service resumption. Service operates 3 weekly from 27OCT19 to 06DEC19, instead of 4 weekly. 777-200LR operating
Toronto – Rome eff 27OCT19 A330-300 replaces previously filed 787-8. Routine seasonal suspension scheduled from 05JAN20
Toronto – Santiago de Chile – Buenos Aires Ezeiza eff 27OCT19 777-300ER replaces 787-9 in NW18, 5-6 weekly
Toronto – Sao Paulo Guarulhos eff 27OCT19 787-9 continues to operate 1 daily, replacing previously filed 777-300ER
Toronto – Seoul Incheon eff 27OCT19 787-8 replaces -9, service operates 6 weekly for entire W19, instead of 4-6 weekly
Vancouver – Auckland eff 12DEC19 4 weekly 787-8, new route
Vancouver – Hong Kong eff 27OCT19 450-seater 777-300ER continues operating in W19, replacing previously filed 787-9

Previously reported rouge changes:
Toronto – Quito eff 08DEC19 3 weekly 767, new route

Uncommanded fuel transfer diverts Rouge 767-300ER

News provided by FlightGlobal.com – link to full story

18 July 2019 by David Kaminski-Morrow, London, FlightGlobal.com

Air Canada Rouge, B767-300, C-FMWU – commons.wikimedia.org

Investigators are inspecting an Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER after it experienced the uncommanded transfer of fuel between tanks.

The aircraft (C-GDUZ) had been operating from Athens to Montreal on 16 July.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the twinjet, powered by General Electric CF6 engines, had been climbing to cruise altitude when the crew identified a “slight” fuel imbalance.

The crew carried out actions from the quick-reference handbook to try to rectify the situation.

But the board says the pilots subsequently determined that an uncommanded transfer of fuel – at the rate of 2.6t/h – was taking place between the left-hand main tank and the centre tank.

The aircraft climbed to around 32,000ft but, as a precaution, diverted to London Heathrow where it landed at about 18:15.

None of the 257 occupants was injured. The board says the twinjet has been undergoing inspection by the carrier’s maintenance personnel.

Fun in the Sun! Air Canada Introduces Winter Service from Quebec City to Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Provided by Air Canada/CNW

First Air Canada direct service between Quebec City l and these sun destinations

MONTREAL, July 17, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today announced two new winter services from Quebec City (YQB) to popular sun destinations Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Service to Cancun begins December 21, 2019 until April 11, 2020, while Punta Cana flights start December 22, 2019 until April 12, 2020. 

An Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321. (CNW Group/Air Canada)
An Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321. (CNW Group/Air Canada)

“We are thrilled to offer residents of Quebec City these non-stop connections to the popular winter getaway destinations of Cancun and Punta Cana. We are adding these new international leisure routes to meet anticipated demand from the capital of Quebec and offer Quebec City residents easy access to incredible holiday experiences,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

Travellers who book their next winter getaway departing from Quebec City to Cancun or Punta Cana can benefit from a vacation package offer through Air Canada Vacations that will save them $200 per couple or $400 per family.

With over 700 hotels, resorts, cruises, tours, as well as optional day tours, car rentals and excursions, Air Canada Vacations offers a full selection of leisure travel options to Canadians to more than 40 destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America.

“We welcome the news that Air Canada has chosen to strengthen its presence in Quebec City by offering international flights from YQB. By improving its winter service and adding flights to winter sun destinations, the airline meets the needs and demands of the people of Quebec. This announcement is the result of a great collaboration between Air Canada and YQB,” said Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB.

The flights will be operated on a 200-seat all-economy Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321. Travellers will be able to stream TV shows and movies to their personal devices via the onboard GoGo Wi-Fi streaming service.

Customers can also collect and redeem Aeroplan Miles through Canada’s leading loyalty program, and eligible customers have access to priority check-in, priority boarding and other benefits.

FlightDepartsArrivesDays of Week
AC1776Quebec City 08:00Cancun 13:00Saturday
AC1777Cancun 14:00Quebec City 18:30Saturday
AC1772Quebec City 08:20Punta Cana 13:50Sunday
AC1773Punta Cana 14:50Quebec City 18:30Sunday

Air Canada in Quebec City

Including these two new routes, Air Canada will offer close to 1.2 million seats in the Quebec City market in 2019. Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and its regional airline partners flying under the Air Canada Express banner operate approximately 275 flights per week between Quebec and Montreal, Sept-Iles, Gaspe, Toronto and Ottawa.

The Air Canada Foundation also helps support several charities in the Quebec City region, such as Opération Enfant Soleil, Fondation Sourdine and Leucan Region Quebec.