‘A government financial assistance is urgently needed to avert a crisis in the aviation industry’
Transport group Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) has sent an “urgent appeal” to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the government to provide financial support to the air transport industry as it deals with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Although we fully support the Government in its actions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, a government financial assistance is urgently needed to avert a crisis in the aviation industry that will severely impact our member carriers, the travelling public and the Canadian economy, both in the short and long term,” wrote John McKenna, president and CEO of ATAC.
McKenna wrote that measures taken by the government to combat the pandemic – including the Travel Advisory issued by the government – have “an immediate catastrophic economic impact” to the air industry. COVID-19 is also threatening the commercial viability and essential services of many air carriers serving Canadians in every region of the country, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs also rely upon air transport of people and goods. Thus the socio-economic stability of many regions of Canada that depend on the air transport industry is at stake. Air travel is key to the economic supply chain of Canada and is an essential service feeding northern and remote communities,” wrote McKenna.
The union noted that it supports measures previously suggested by the National Airlines Council of Canada, but it still wants the government to include a significant financial aid package for the air transport industry on an immediate basis.
“We believe that part of the stimulus package announced by the Minister of Finance […] and any subsequent financial support, should be allocated to the air transport industry to ensure the survival of the sector, protect our members' ability to serve all Canadians, and enable national economic recovery,” said McKenna.
The Canadian Press reported that Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants as the country's largest airline cuts routes and parks planes due to COVID-19.
Wesley Lesosky, head of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said the carrier is laying off about 3,600 mainline employees as well as all of Air Canada Rouge's 1,549 flight attendants, according to the report.