Air Canada Pilots Initiate Contract Negotiations

Air Canada

Air Canada pilots have kicked off what's expected to be a long and arduous contract bargaining process with the airline. Simple Flying reports that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union that Air Canada's pilots just recently joined, has provided official notice to the airline.

The move was expected as it comes just weeks after the pilots invoked a clause to end their 10-year collective agreement one year early, as Open Jaw reported. Not coincidentally, it also comes hard on the heels of an historic new contract won by their counterparts at WestJet.

Over 84 per cent of Air Canada pilots voted in favour of joining ALPA - the same union that represents WestJet pilots - on 01MAY. ALPA is the world's largest pilots' union.

"In order to remain competitive in the global economy, Air Canada must address career progression and job security for its pilots, as well as the growing wage gap between the United States and Canada,” said F/O Charlene Hudy, Air Canada Master Executive Council chair for the union in a statement.

The last major negotiation regarding Air Canada pilots’ contracts took place in 2014. ALPA is looking to schedule its first bargaining meeting with the company in the coming weeks. The current deal will remain in force until 29SEPT and its provisions will still apply after that date.

Following Other Airlines’ Lead

In MAY, WestJet pilots, also represented by ALPA, won a 24 per cent pay increase, as Open Jaw reported. On 09JUN, WestJet Group confirmed that the company's pilots had ratified a tentative agreement that was reached just hours before the first long weekend of high summer travel season.

Experts said the WestJet deal could set a new standard in Canadian aviation that would put Canadian pilots closer to U.S. pay levels, so they don’t leave for higher salaries south of the border.

As Open Jaw reported, pilots across North America are demanding better pay and working conditions in their discussions with company management regarding new employment agreements.

Earlier this year, Delta's pilots secured a 34 per cent pay increase over a four-year period.

The labour tension is widespread across airlines in Canada and the U.S., with pilots at WestJet, Air Canada, Delta, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit, JetBlue Airways and even cargo pilots at FedEx demanding better compensation and benefits following travel resumption after the pandemic.

Something's Gotta Give

Pilots' successes in securing rich new contracts has many industry observers noting that the money will have to come from somewhere - which likely means higher airfares ahead.

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