Here are Air Canada’s latest stats as the airline tackles delays, cancellations head-on

Here’s everything Air Canada is doing to keep travel moving this summer

MONTREAL — Air Canada is outlining all the measures the company is taking during this extraordinary time of travel’s resurgence, after comments from the federal government that airlines must own their role in the current challenges at airport chaos.

For months now long lineups and delays at Canada’s biggest airports, particularly Pearson Airport, have frustrated travellers and the travel industry, especially on the heels of two years of travel shutdowns.

The federal government issued its latest update earlier this week, highlighting the measures its taken to alleviate the chaos.

As reported yesterday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, later said: “Airlines have a duty as well. We’re hearing some stories about luggage issues and flights cancelling. We’re making sure that the airlines keep up their end of the bargain.”

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents carriers including Air Canada, Transat and more, says they’ve already done that. “The delays at Canada’s airports are not due to staffing at levels at airlines, but rather due to the workforce challenges at NAV Canada (which runs the country’s air navigation service), CATSA and CBSA which have a cascading effect on flight schedules and resources across the ecosystem,” said Suzanne Acton-Gervais.

STATEMENT FROM MICHAEL ROUSSEAU

Following up on the NACC’s input, Air Canada has released a statement from President and CEO Michael Rousseau, following a meeting yesterday of senior Air Canada representatives and other key participants in the Canadian aviation industry and Minister Alghabra.

“At Air Canada, we know every trip is important, even more so today as many are flying for the first time in years to see loved ones or take an eagerly anticipated holiday. We are determined not to disappoint and have been long preparing for a travel surge this summer, including coordinating with our industry partners. As all businesses worldwide are finding, restarting after COVID is an extremely complex task and we deeply appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience during these often-frustrating times,” said Rousseau.

He notes that every day Air Canada currently operates more than 1,000 flights and regularly carries more than 120,000 people, with the vast majority of scheduled flights successfully completed.

“In recognition of the high importance Canadians place on travel and its value to the Canadian economy, Air Canada has recommitted to keep working alongside its industry partners and with the federal government to ensure Canadians continue to benefit from a safe, efficient and reliable air transportation system,” Rousseau said.

Here’s a roundup …

CUSTOMER INITIATIVES

  • New Self-Service Re-accommodation tools will allow customers who have schedule changes, delays, or cancellations to request a refund if eligible or rebook their itineraries in a few minutes through its mobile app or website. This includes getting up to 20 alternative flight options (based on availability), choosing to fly to nearby airports instead, and the ability to search for flights in a three-day window. It’s available for customers regardless of how and where they booked their tickets;
  • A goodwill policy has been implemented for passengers traveling via Toronto-Pearson to allow them to voluntarily increase their connection time at no cost for more flexibility when travelling. This policy can be applied within 48 hours of the original travel time;
  • A second new policy will allow customers free, same-day stand-by options for earlier flights within Canada/Transborder regardless of fare brand or booking class;
  • The airline maintains an updated travel readiness page on aircanada.com with the latest information and advice for those preparing to travel, including information about COVID-19 requirements. Customers are advised to consult this page before travelling.

IN AIRPORTS

  • In addition to the recall of virtually all available Air Canada employees, more than 2,000 front-line airport employees (and 774 more people to work in call centres) have been hired and extensively trained over the last six months, with additional overtime and ongoing hiring, including drawing upon recently retired employees with special expertise;
  • Employees have been reassigned from other bases to augment specific airports, including the cross-utilization of cargo employees to assist with airport passenger operations;
  • Redeployed aircraft from the Jetz charter fleet to move delayed baggage, which has increased in large part due to air transport processing and infrastructure issues outside its control;
  • Working closely with airport authorities, government and third-party agencies to enhance and expedite the processing of customers throughout their journey;
  • Additional ground equipment has been acquired to improve airport operations.

NETWORK / SCHEDULE

  • Minimum Connection Times for flights from international and transborder destinations connecting to domestic destinations have been increased by 30 minutes for new bookings in Toronto and Montreal, giving customers (and their baggage) additional time to connect;
  • The schedule has been refined to reduce peak times at the Toronto-Pearson and Montreal-Trudeau airports by retiming and cancelling certain flights, or reducing frequencies, where protection is available to customers the same day. This will conserve resources and reduce stress on third-party service providers by smoothing passenger flows and be more convenient for customers;
  • Aircraft gating at airports has been reconfigured. For example, widebody aircraft in Montreal travelling internationally and to the U.S. are being more conveniently located to achieve efficiencies during peak hours for added operational flexibility.