Air Canada Reducing Summer Schedule by over 10 Per Cent to Address "Customer Service Shortfalls"

Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada
Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada

Air Canada has announced it's making "meaningful reductions" to its JUL and AUG schedule "in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate."

The airline sent statements to media and to its Aeroplan members the evening of Wednesday, 29JUN - just ahead of the Canada Day long weekend and the start of the busy summer travel months.

“Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” president and CEO of Air Canada, Michael Rousseau, wrote.

"It is now clear that Air Canada’s operations too have been disrupted by the industry’s complex and unavoidable challenges. The result has been flight cancellations and customer service shortfalls on our part that we would never have intended for our customers or for our employees, and for which we sincerely apologize," he added.

Air Canada says it had been operating about 1000 flights a day, but with this move, its schedule will be reduced by an average of 154 flights a day in both JUL and AUG.

The changes are targeted. Most affected routes are to and from YUL and YYZ. According to the airline, the frequency of these flight is being reduced, mainly evening and late-night flights on Air Canada's smaller aircraft.

A spokesperson also said Air Canada will be temporarily suspending routes between Montreal and Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna, and Toronto and Fort McMurray. But international flights will remain mostly unaffected, except for timing changes to off-peak times.

The announcement comes a week after an air travel industry summit with Canada's Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, as well as heads of CATSA, CBSA, Canada's major airports, airlines and aviation organizations. Alghabra had made it clear prior to the summit that chaos at Canada's busiest airports required more than federal government action to solve.

Following that meeting, Rousseau also issued a statement, saying Air Canada was  “determined not to disappoint” pax heading into summer, and the service reduction announcement clearly addresses that commitment.

"This was not an easy decision," Rousseau added, "as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will have a negative impact on some customers."

But doing this in advance allows affected customers to take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than have their travel disrupted shortly before or during their journey, with few alternatives available. It will also enable us to more reliably serve all customers.

"I can assure you Air Canada is also working in close cooperation with airports, government, and its third‑party service providers, who all are striving to return our industry to pre‑pandemic standards of operation."

He noted that although the reduction in summer service was to regain "the operational stability we need," he also noted that "the real benefits of this action will take time and be felt only gradually as the industry regains the reliability and robustness it had attained prior to the pandemic."

The letter to Aeroplan members concluded by saying, "Thank you for your patience and understanding. We certainly look forward to future opportunities to serve you and regain your loyalty at a time when we can better demonstrate our commitment to taking good care of customers such as yourself."

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