Summer travel surge has WestJet and Air Canada asking for volunteer help

From CBC News – link to source story

Passenger traffic has reached its highest point since pandemic began

Kyle Bakx · CBC News · September 16, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has ground an unprecedented number of flights in Canada and around the world. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

A surge in summer travel across the country has forced Canada’s two biggest airlines to ask staff to help volunteer at airports to overcome staffing challenges — a move that is creating pushback from unions.

In an email to all employees, WestJet described how the rapid growth in passenger numbers is causing operational problems at several airports, including its flagship airport in Calgary.

The “growing pains of recovery requires all-hands-on-deck,” read the message, which included an open call for any staff members to sign up to volunteer to help guests requiring wheelchair assistance at the Calgary International Airport.

Meanwhile, Air Canada has needed extra personnel at Toronto’s Pearson airport since “airport partners are stretched beyond their capacity, which led to significant flight cancellations and missed connections,” read an internal memo.

In late August and early September, air passenger traffic reached its highest point since the pandemic began. The increase in business is critical to the aviation industry, which was devastated early on in the crisis as many countries restricted international travel.

The industry is not immune to the staffing challenges faced by many sectors as lockdowns started to lift; airlines continue to cope with changing government restrictions, while also following a variety of COVID-19 protocols at domestic and international airports.

In the U.S., American Airlines and Delta Air Lines also asked staff to volunteer at airports this summer.

At Toronto’s Pearson, the international arrival process can take up to three hours, as passengers are screened by Canada Border Services Agency and Public Health Agency of Canada agents, collect bags and possibly take a COVID-19 test.

“As the technology for sharing and displaying vaccine documents improves, passengers become more comfortable with the new process and vaccine-driven changes in border protections take effect, we hope to see further improvement in wait-time conditions in the terminals,” a Pearson spokesperson said in an email statement, which highlighted other steps to reduce delays.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/mrCsu/1/

Union objections

But several unions have advised their members to avoid volunteering for a variety of reasons.

CUPE, which represents flight attendants at WestJet, declined to comment. However, in a letter, it told members that “the company is imploring you to provide free, volunteer and zero-cost labour. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.”

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents WestJet’s pilots, also declined to comment. But in a message to members, it highlighted how “if you are injured doing this work, you may not be covered by our disability insurer.”

Unifor, which represents customer service agents at both of Canada’s major airlines, said its members were upset about the call for volunteers and the union wasn’t happy that there wasn’t any advanced warning or conversation.

“Take a group of workers that is already very stressed by the kind of operation that’s going on, the quantity of passengers, the amount of extra processes that are in place because of COVID in order to travel — and then adding these pieces on is not helpful,” said Leslie Dias, Unifor’s director of airlines.

During the pandemic, WestJet decided to outsource the work of guest-service agents, who would help passengers that require wheelchairs, assist with check-in kiosks and co-ordinate lineups.

But the contractor is struggling to provide enough workers, said Dias, and that’s why there was a call for volunteers.

After flying more than 700 flights daily in 2019, WestJet flew as few as 30 some days during the pandemic. Currently, there are more than 400 flights each day.

“WestJet, as is the case across Canada and across many industries, faces continued issues due to labour hiring challenges as a result of COVID-19,” said spokesperson Morgan Bell in an emailed statement.

“As WestJet looks ahead to recovery, we continue to work toward actively recalling and hiring company-wide, with the current expectation we will reach 9,000 fully trained WestJetters by the end of the year, which is more than twice as many WestJetters as we had at our lowest point in the pandemic some five months ago,” she said.

Air Canada said it only asked salaried management to help volunteer at Pearson airport. 

Unifor said the airline was short of workers because the company didn’t have enough training capacity to accommodate recalled employees and couldn’t arrange restricted-area passes on time.

Thousands of airline workers lost their jobs, were furloughed or faced wage reductions last year, although the carriers are bringing back workers as travel activity increases.

Officials at Toronto’s Pearson airport say they are trying to reduce delays and wait times by bringing back the international-to-domestic connection process, which helps some arriving international passengers that are connecting onward in Canada to complete the customs process faster and go directly to their next flight. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Returning staff

At WestJet, its customer service agents have been recalled, according to Unifor. Many employees in other positions, though, remain out of work, including about 500 furloughed pilots.

Air Canada said it has been continually recalling employees since last spring, including more than 5,000 in July and August.

Asking for volunteers is an “unusual” occurrence in the industry, said Rick Erickson, an independent airline analyst based in Calgary. But he said it’s not surprising since cutting a workforce is much easier than building it back up.

Airlines have to retrain staff, secure valid certification and security passes, and find new hires as well.

Erickson said he even spotted WestJet CEO Ed Sims helping at the check-in counter in Calgary in recent weeks, as passenger activity was at its peak so far this year.

“This has been the most challenging time, honestly, in civil aviation history; we’ve never, ever seen anything approaching 90 per cent of your revenues drying up,” said Erickson, noting that airlines still have to watch their finances closely.

WestJet CEO Ed Sims is shown at the airline’s headquarters in Calgary. He’s been helping at the check-in counter at the Calgary airport in recent weeks. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Asking employees to volunteer isn’t illegal, but it does raise some questions, said Sarah Coderre, a labour lawyer with Bow River Law LLP in Calgary. 

“Whether or not it’s fair, and the sort of position it puts the employees in, if they choose not to volunteer, that would be concerning for me from a legal standpoint,” said Coderre.

Air Canada is currently operating at about 35 to 40 per cent of its 2019 flying capacity, but said one bright spot on the horizon is bookings for winter getaways toward the end of this year and the beginning of 2022.

“When looking to the sun leisure markets, we are very optimistic about our recovery,” a spokesperson said by email. “We are currently observing demand growth that is above 2019 levels.”

Air Canada crew held in Hong Kong after ‘positive’ COVID test

From the Toronto Sun – Link to source story – Thanks MB

The four-person cargo plane crew were detained Sept. 9 after a pilot allegedly tested positive for COVID-19

By Bryan Passifiume  •  Sep 13, 2021

An Air Canada 787 passenger plane takes off at Pearson International Airport on Jan. 24, 2021.
An Air Canada 787 passenger plane takes off at Pearson International Airport on Jan. 24, 2021. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Postmedia Network

Air Canada is working with the Canadian government to secure the release of members of a  flight crew detained last week in Hong Kong.

An internal memo obtained by the Sun, dated Sept. 10, said the four-person flight crew of an Air Canada cargo flight was detained by Chinese authorities last Thursday after one of the pilots allegedly tested positive for COVID-19 — despite testing negative before leaving Canada.

“Rest assured, Air Canada is working with all stakeholders, including the Canadian government, to facilitate an expeditious return of this crew to Canada,” said the memo, which was obtained by the Toronto Sun.

Sources said Chinese authorities are holding the crew in a government facility, and that officials from Canada’s Consulate General in Hong Kong are now involved in securing their release.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed they’re aware of the situation.

“Consular officials are in contact with local authorities and are providing consular assistance to the affected individuals,” a GAC spokesperson told the Sun.

“Consular officials will continue to monitor their health and well-being closely.”

An Air Canada spokesperson said pilot’s viral load was low, and was asymptomatic during the flight.

“The pilot was fully vaccinated and had received a negative PCR test result prior to leaving Canada,” the spokesperson said, adding the three other pilots subsequently tested negative.

“Because of the new government-imposed restrictions in Hong Kong, all four crew members need to quarantine.

Those restrictions also prompted Air Canada to, effective Monday, end all direct service to Hong Kong with future flights routed with a crew stopover in Seoul.

Regulations in Hong Kong mandate a minimum quarantine for 21 days.

A spokesperson for the Air Canada Pilots Association declined to comment.

Air Canada Joins ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration’ at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

  • New ways for Aeroplan members to experience the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary celebration, including a contest from Air Canada for a chance to win one of 50 magical prizes

MONTREAL, Sept. 9, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada is bringing the magic of the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary celebration to Aeroplan members with new and exciting ways to experience the 18-month milestone event beginning October 1, 2021. From now until September 29, 2021, Aeroplan members can enter Air Canada’s contest for a chance to win one of 50 magical prizes, including one of five Air Canada Vacations packages to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Air Canada is also adding Disney merchandise and Disney Gift Cards that can be redeemed using Aeroplan points on the Aeroplan eStore. Plus, Aeroplan members will continue to earn and redeem Aeroplan points when travelling with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations to Walt Disney World Resort.

“Unforgettable experiences, lasting memories and excitement, this is what Walt Disney World Resort is all about no matter your age, and Air Canada is extremely proud to celebrate this wonderful milestone marking 50 years of magic, in close collaboration with Disney,” said Andy Shibata, Vice President, Brand at Air Canada. “The magic also won’t stop here, with even more ways for our customers to experience ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration’ to be announced soon.”

With up to 33 weekly flights between Canada and Florida, including non-stop service to Orlando from Montreal and Toronto, Air Canada is the largest Canadian carrier into Orland Canadians. Later this year, Air Canada will also be offering non-stop service to Orlando from Quebec City, Ottawa and Halifax. Customers looking to simplify their vacation planning can take advantage of complete Walt Disney World vacation packages, including hotel and theme park tickets, when booking with Air Canada Vacations, a distributor of Disney travel products for over 15 years.

Air Canada makes family travel as easy as possible by offering dedicated family check-in lines and early boarding, as well as offering our Skyriders program for kids that includes special meals and kits for them while onboard. And through Aeroplan Family Sharing, earning and redeeming Aeroplan points has never been easier.

50 magical prizes to celebrate 50 magical years

Aeroplan members can enter the contest between September 9, 2021 and September 29, 2021, at aircanada.com/magical50 for their chance to win one of the five Air Canada Vacations packages to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, as well as 45 other prizes that include Disney merchandise, Disney Gift Card eGifts and Aeroplan points. The total approximate value of all 50 prizes is $112,340.95 CAD. Not an Aeroplan member? Join now.

The contest is open to all active Aeroplan members in good standing who: (i) are residents of Canada, (ii) have reached the legal age of majority in their province or territory of residence, and (iii) enter the contest between September 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and September 29, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (EST). No purchase necessary.

Full contest rules and contest entry form available at aircanada.com/magical50.

New Disney Merchandise on Aeroplan eStore

Aeroplan members will have access to a dedicated Disney shop on the Aeroplan eStore where they can redeem points for Disney Gift Cards starting at $100 CAD, or to shop for popular Disney merchandise for their family and friends.

Aeroplan Member Benefits

Aeroplan members can redeem their Aeroplan points for flights to Orlando with Air Canada, or toward an entire Walt Disney World vacation package with Air Canada Vacations. They can also earn Aeroplan points on their flights when booking with Air Canada or Air Canada Vacations. Aeroplan credit cardholders can earn Aeroplan points even faster and receive additional airline benefits.

The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration

Beginning October 1, 2021:

  • Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will host “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honouring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
  • This 18-month event will feature new experiences at the resort’s four theme parks and beyond, where shimmering EARidescent décor will appear as if by magic.
  • A new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment,” will help kick off the 50th anniversary festivities when it debuts Oct. 1 at Magic Kingdom Park.
  • Joining “Disney Enchantment” on Oct. 1 will be “Harmonious” at EPCOT, one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park.
  • An expanded France pavilion at EPCOT will be part of the festivities and feature a new family-friendly attraction, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and a delicious new restaurant, La Crêperie de Paris.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Sets Course for a Return to Commercial Service as Porter Airlines and Air Canada Resume Operations September 8

September 8 restart comes after 18-month temporary suspension of commercial service due to COVID-19 pandemic

TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2021 /CNW/ – Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport today celebrates a return to the skies with the restart of commercial airline service by Porter Airlines and Air Canada after temporarily suspending operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Billy Bishop Airport’s staff, stakeholders and government partners marked the day and recognized the conclusion of a difficult period for the aviation industry by welcoming back passengers and getting back to the business of making connections and supporting Toronto’s economy. The commercial restart coincidentally takes place on the 82nd anniversary of the island airport’s very first commercial flight in 1939.

Geoffrey Wilson, CEO of PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport, was joined by His Worship John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, and Michael Deluce, President and CEO of Porter Airlines in offering remarks to celebrate the occasion. Passengers and staff were treated to giveaways and prizes, and a commemorative first flight to Ottawa attended by key stakeholders and partners was “readied for takeoff” with a special water canon salute performed by the airport’s onsite Airport Rescue and Firefighting team.

On September 8 Air Canada will restart its service to Montreal, while Porter Airlines will phase in   its scheduled offering with the initial group of Canadian destinations being Montreal, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Toronto. Halifax, Moncton, Quebec City and St. John’s, NL, return over the next 10 days, while U.S. destinations in Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington are planned to follow on September 17. Remaining year-round markets served by Porter begin on October 6.

Quotes

Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, PortsToronto
“This is a day that we have all been looking forward to and planning for since March 2020, when the pandemic emerged and our world changed overnight. Today we mark a return to commercial service at Billy Bishop Airport and a return to the business, passengers and experiences that make our airport truly unique and inspire our love of travel. The restart of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is also an important component of the City of Toronto’s recovery strategy as our restart means a return of jobs, a return of trade and tourism, and a return of a valuable gateway to one of the best cities in the world.”

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
“The restart of commercial service at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is an important sign of the progress we have made combatting the pandemic and getting residents vaccinated. We are safely reopening our city and I’m so confident that our economic recovery will be a success. Toronto will come back stronger than ever thanks to all of our collective efforts across the city. I want to thank everyone who has worked on the airport restart effort. Today we are welcoming back commercial service and all that it brings with it – more jobs, more business, and more tourism.”

Michael Deluce, CEO, Porter Airlines
“Our passengers and team members have been waiting for this day to arrive. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport remains as the world’s best urban airport and everyone at Porter is looking forward to welcoming passengers back and delivering our distinct style of service again.”

Mark Galardo, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management, Air Canada
“Air Canada is very pleased to offer customers the option of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport when travelling to Montreal or connecting beyond from there on our extensive global network. We are returning with a schedule of five, conveniently timed return trips each day, and we look forward to expanding our daily services as more traffic returns.”

Quick Facts

  • In July 2021, Billy Bishop Airport achieved certification from the Airports Council International (ACI) Airport Health Accreditation program, which assesses and validates new health measures and procedures required as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force recommendations.
  • Billy Bishop Airport is proud of its Safe Travels Program which was introduced to ensure that all necessary precautions and public health protocols associated with air travel are in place. This program is complemented by programs in place with each of its carriers – Porter Airlines’ Healthy Flights program and Air Canada’s CleanCare+ program, and is inclusive of all airport partners including Nieuport Aviation (terminal owners/operators); Stolport (parking) as well as government agencies including CATSA (screening and security) and CBSA (border protection).
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport – then called Port George VI Island Airport – welcomed its first commercial flight on September 8, 1939. The famed musician Tommy Dorsey and his swing band were aboard that first flight as the band had been invited to play at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). This was also the first airliner from the US to arrive at the island airport.

About Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
Offering service to more than 20 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connection opportunities to more than 80 international destinations via our airlines’ networks, Billy Bishop Airport is an important international gateway and a key driver to Toronto’s economy, generating more than $470 million in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year and supporting 4,740 jobs, including 2,080 directly associated with the airport operations. Billy Bishop Airport is renowned for its unique travel experience, efficiency and customer service and has won a series of passenger-driven awards.

About PortsToronto
For more than 100 years PortsToronto has worked with its partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to enhance the economic growth of the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomed approximately 2.8 million passengers in 2019; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada’s largest freshwater marinas; and, Marine Terminal 52, which provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $12 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto’s waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a nine-member board with representation from all three levels of government.

Aeroplan Credit Cardholders Can Now Enjoy $0 Delivery Fees and More With A Free Uber Pass Membership

  • Aeroplan and Uber team up to help make Aeroplan members’ everyday lives more rewarding
  • Free Uber Pass membership for eligible Aeroplan credit cardholders available starting September 8
  • Expanded loyalty partnership to come later in 2021

MONTREAL, Sept. 8, 2021 /CNW/ – Aeroplan announced today a partnership with Uber Canada that gives eligible Aeroplan credit cardholders access to unlimited $0 Delivery Fees on eligible food and grocery orders, ride discounts and additional perks with a free Uber Pass membership. 

The free Uber Pass membership is available to eligible Aeroplan credit cardholders for a period of three, six or twelve months depending on the card.

“We are very excited to come together with Uber and our bank partners to offer our Aeroplan cardholders something that will benefit their everyday lives,” said Scott O’Leary, Vice President, Aeroplan at Air Canada. “Uber Pass provides real savings and is one more reason why Aeroplan’s credit cards are more convenient and rewarding than ever.”

Aeroplan credit cardholders can save up to $120 in monthly membership costs and enjoy Uber Pass savings like unlimited $0 Delivery Fees and 5% savings off eligible restaurant orders over $15 on Uber Eats, and save on grocery orders through Cornershop over $40, where available. Cardholders will also unlock new Uber Rides perks each month with discounts available only to Passholders. To enjoy these benefits, Cardholders must activate their free membership by September 7, 2022.

“Uber Pass combines the best of Uber Eats and Uber rides into one membership, unlocking savings on travel and delivery at a massive scale. We’re thrilled to partner with Aeroplan, one of Canada’s largest loyalty programs, to provide exclusive deals and benefits to credit cardholders,” said Lola Kassim, Head of Delivery, Uber Canada.

Stay tuned for more things to come from Aeroplan and Uber later in 2021. 

How it works:

  1. Simply open your Uber or Uber Eats App (or download it);
  2. Add your eligible Aeroplan credit card to your Uber account;
  3. Activate your free Uber Pass membership and use your Aeroplan credit card when paying for qualifying purchases (the same one used to activate your free membership). 

Participating Cards – Launching September 8, 2021

TD:

CIBC:

Participating Cards – Launching November 1, 2021

American Express:

  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Card – 6 months free
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card – 12 months free
  • American Express®* Aeroplan® Business Reserve Card – 12 months free

In the months of September and October 2021, American Express is extending eligible Aeroplan® Cardmembers a special offer – spend $10 on a qualifying Uber Eats purchase each month and get a $10 statement credit, up to a maximum of $20 in statement credits. Terms apply.

For more information, please visit: www.aircanada.com/uberpass.

About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.

About Uber Canada
Uber’s mission is to create opportunity through movement. Co-founded by Calgarian entrepreneur Garrett Camp, Uber started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get access to a ride at the touch of a button? More than 10 billion trips later, Uber is building products to get people closer to where they want to be. By changing how people, food, and things move through cities, Uber is a platform that opens up the world to new possibilities. For more information, visit uber.com.

Air Canada Rouge Returns to The Skies Offering More Choice for Leisure Travellers

  • Resumed service features updated uniforms and enhanced streaming entertainment
  • Updated cabin interior to be available on select aircraft starting this fall

MONTREAL, Sept. 7, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada’s leisure airline, resumed service today with flights operating between Toronto and Las Vegas, Orlando, and Regina, with other destinations being introduced in September, including Cancun and Tampa.

“Air Canada Rouge remains integral to Air Canada’s overall strategy. As we emerge from the pandemic, we anticipate increased demand for vacation travel and from customers flying to enjoy overdue visits with family and friends. Air Canada’s leisure airline is ideally suited to serve this market with a compelling array of leisure destinations and an inviting travel experience so that the holidays begin as soon as customers board an Air Canada Rouge aircraft,” said Jon Turner, Vice President Inflight Services and President, Rouge Operations, at Air Canada.

Air Canada Rouge also provided a sneak peek of the cabin interior that will be available on nine Airbus A321 aircraft of the 39-aircraft Rouge Fleet, with the first entering service later this fall.

A321 Rouge Premium Economy

These nine aircraft feature a new contemporary interior design with playful Rouge brand accents and will be configured with leather seats, with 30-inch seat pitch in the Economy cabin. The A321 Rouge aircraft also offer upgraded personal power options, including USB-C ports, and a convenient personal electronic device holder integrated into the seatback.

A321 Rouge Economy

With the resumption of Air Canada Rouge service, which had been suspended since spring 2021, customers can also enjoy recent product and design enhancements onboard all Rouge aircraft. These include:

  • Upgraded streaming entertainment – customers no longer need to use an app to stream content; customers can now stream hours of television and movies available on a complimentary basis directly to their own device via their web browser, or their complimentary, sanitized iPad in Premium Rouge. 
  • Refreshed uniforms – Rouge flight attendants will be sporting a new uniform featuring many pieces of the award-winning Air Canada mainline uniform, accented with new neckwear and brevets to represent the Rouge brand.

All Air Canada Rouge flights are operated with narrow-body Airbus aircraft offering high-speed Wi-Fi (available for purchase) and a choice of Premium Rouge and Economy services. Customers travelling in the Premium Rouge cabin will be offered a complimentary bar and beverage service, and a complimentary meal on flights over two hours, or a snack on flights of shorter duration.

All flights are operated using the Air Canada CleanCare+ suite of biosafety measures. Customers can collect and redeem Aeroplan points through Canada’s leading loyalty program when travelling and eligible customers have access to priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounges, priority boarding and other benefits. 

More information about Air Canada Rouge flights can be found at: www.flyrouge.com

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Air Canada Equips Customers with a Powerful New Trip Planning Tool Through Expanded Travel Ready Hub

MONTREAL, Sept. 7, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today unveiled its expanded Travel Ready hub, an interactive online tool to help customers plan and prepare for upcoming trips. Customers can use it to easily and conveniently obtain such information as necessary travel documentation, COVID-19 test requirements and country travel restrictions for any global destination.  Air Canada’s Travel Ready hub is available at aircanada.com/travelready and on the mobile version of the Air Canada website.

“We continue to develop practical solutions to help our customers be travel-ready, wherever they want to go. This includes assisting them in navigating the changing entry requirements set by countries in our global network by making all relevant information available in one convenient place. But beyond making essential travel information readily accessible, our easy-to-use Travel Ready hub is designed to make it simple for customers to choose where to go next by showing the countries that are open to visitors through an interactive map,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

The airline’s enhanced Travel Ready hub features a search widget so that users can access information specific to their situation and itinerary. Among other things: the hub allows customers to review entry requirements for every country on their itinerary, including if they are connecting via another country or traveling with an Air Canada airline partner; if their travels require a COVID-19 test, ensure they have the right test (molecular or antigen) taken within the valid time window; and provide travel advice, particularly related to airport arrival times, given additional checks in-place. All of these features are designed with the goal of delivering a smoother and quicker airport experience for customers.

Air Canada will continue implementing initiatives to streamline the travel process, increase customer convenience via digital tools, and remain a leader in adopting science-based measures to further enhance safety. To date, the airline has put in place the following measures for customers to travel easily, confidently and safely:

  • Ongoing restoration and strategic rebuilding of its international, transborder and domestic network to conveniently reunite people with friends and family, together with flexible and expanded change and cancellation options for bookings;
  • A new digital solution via the Air Canada App and website, enabling customers flying between Canada and select countries to conveniently and securely scan and upload COVID-19 test results to validate compliance with government travel requirements prior to arriving at the airport;
  • Numerous streamlined processes, from several check-in options via web, mobile or airport self-serve kiosk, Touch-Free Bag Check and Bag Drop services, digital presentation of all reading materials via PressReader on personal devices. In the lounge, meals can be ordered and delivered straight to the table through the new Maple Leaf Lounge @ la table service, with additional opportunities to further modernize processes underway;
  • The award-winning Air Canada CleanCare+ program, featuring enhanced biosafety measures throughout every stage of air travel from check-in to lounges to boarding to on-board, which includes highly efficient HEPA air filters on aircraft;
  • As of Oct. 31, 2021, Air Canada is requiring all its employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, further ensuring the safety and well-being of customers and employees.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.

CAE and Air Canada sign exclusive maintenance training agreement

Montreal, Canada, September 7, 2021 (NYSE: CAE; TSX: CAE) – CAE and Air Canada announced the signing of an exclusive five-year aircraft maintenance training partnership agreement. As a result, CAE is now Air Canada’s embedded Transport Canada Approved Training Organization for Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering.

The agreement includes the development, management and delivery of all of Air Canada’s maintenance and engineering training, including all regulatory approved training. CAE will implement many of its state-of-the-art digital training technologies, including training and qualifications management, virtual 360 aircraft environments and a new digital solution that will enable Air Canada to explore modern training environments such as evidence-based training.

“Throughout the years, several manufacturers have entrusted CAE with its excellent training and technology,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “This first of its kind training agreement between two Canadian companies will provide a training experience true to the aircraft platforms with high level of instruction, service, courseware and technology. I’m confident that this partnership will allow us to work closely by developing and fine-tuning specific training programs for Air Canada.”

“This first of its kind, industry leading agreement will bring together Air Canada’s technical aircraft maintenance excellence with CAE’s focus and excellence in training environment,” said Richard Steer, Air Canada’s Senior Vice President of Operations. “I look forward to the implementation of Air Canada’s Aircraft Maintenance Training Center of Excellence, which will bring two world class, Canadian companies together.”

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline. Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2019 served over 51 million customers. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax, which also named Air Canada the 2019 Best Airline in North America. For more information, please visit: aircanada.com/media, follow Air Canada on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join Air Canada on Facebook.

About CAE

CAE is a high technology company, at the leading edge of digital immersion, providing solutions to make the world a safer place. Backed by a record of more than 70 years of industry firsts, we continue to reimagine the customer experience and revolutionize training and operational support solutions in civil aviation, defence and security, and healthcare. We are the partner of choice to customers worldwide who operate in complex, high-stakes and largely regulated environments, where successful outcomes are critical. As testament to our customers’ ongoing needs for our solutions, over 60 percent of CAE’s revenue is recurring in nature. We have the broadest global presence in our industry, with more than 11,000 employees, 180 sites, and training locations in over 35 countries. http://www.cae.com

Air Canada Resumes Service Between Montreal and Toronto Island Airport Beginning September 8

MONTREAL, Sept. 3, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today announced it will resume service to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island beginning September 8, 2021 with five daily return flights to Montreal. Seats are available for booking at aircanada.com, via the Air Canada App, Air Canada’s Contact Centres and travel agencies.

“We are pleased to restart our operations at Billy Bishop airport and offer our customers the choice to fly in and out of Toronto Island, which is popular among business travellers for its proximity to the city centre and its ability to connect travellers to our global network through Montreal. Our schedule enables travellers to conveniently fly between Montreal and Toronto Island Airport up to five times per day, linking the two key business and cultural centres as we continue to play our part to reinvigorate Canada’s economy. We look forward to welcoming our customers back on board and expanding our daily service as more traffic returns,” said Mark Galardo, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management at Air Canada.

Air Canada’s Toronto Island-Montreal Service

FlightDepartsArrivesDays of Operation
AC7952Toronto at 07:15Montreal at 08:27Daily
AC7958Toronto at 10:20Montreal at 11:33Daily
AC7970Toronto at 16:15Montreal at 17:28Daily
AC7976Toronto at 17:15Montreal at 18:28Daily
AC7974Toronto at 18:20Montreal at 19:33Daily
AC7959Montreal at 07:30Toronto at 08:49Daily
AC7955Montreal at 08:30Toronto at 09:49Daily
AC7965Montreal at 13:30Toronto at 14:49Daily
AC7971Montreal at 16:30Toronto at 17:49Daily
AC7975Montreal at 18:30Toronto at 19:49Daily

Service to Toronto Island will be operated by Air Canada Express Jazz with a De Havilland Dash 8-400 featuring a complimentary snack and drink. All customers can collect and redeem Aeroplan Points through Canada’s leading loyalty program when travelling with Air Canada, and eligible customers have access to priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounges at Canadian airports, priority boarding and other benefits.  Air Canada’s commercial schedule may be adjusted as required based on the COVID-19 trajectory and government restrictions.

Air Canada offers its customers complimentary shuttle bus service between downtown and Toronto City Airport. The shuttle brings travellers to and from the west entrance of The Fairmont Royal York Hotel, located at the corner of Front and York streets, directly across from Union Station.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Air Canada’s strict new employee vaccine policy could set new workplace bar: experts

From City News 1130 – link to source story

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS AND CLAIRE FENTON | Aug 27, 2021

Grounded Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

CALGARY — Air Canada won’t offer rapid testing as an alternative to employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The airline says it will require all employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 30. Those who don’t have a valid reason for not having their shots could be fired.

Most companies that have said they’ll require employees to get the jab are giving unvaccinated employees the option of submitting to regular COVID-19 testing instead. But experts say Air Canada’s tougher stance could set a new bar.

Employment lawyer Chantel Goldsmith says Air Canada’s policy is legal. But the airline must accommodate those who have a medical condition or other valid reason for not having their shots.

She says otherwise it could create a legal issue.

It’s expected many other companies will be looking at Air Canada’s announcement to see what steps they will apply to their own staff, especially as many workers plan to head back to the office.

Until the move, Porter Airlines was the lone airline to require its staff be fully immunized.

It’s expected more announcements of mandatory vaccine policies will be ahead across the country as all of Canada’s federally regulated industries must come up with plans to get their workers vaccinated by the end of October.

WestJet and Transat say they are still developing their employee vaccination policies. But the pilots’ union for those airlines has told its members it rejects threats of termination based on vaccine status.

The Canadian government also announced earlier this month that it will mandate vaccines for commercial air travellers.

With files from Kayla Butler