Air Transat Pilots Overwhelmingly Authorize Union To Call Strike


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Air Transat Pilots Overwhelmingly Authorize Union To Call Strike

Daniel Baxter

August 18, 2010 - The pilots of Air Transat, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), resoundingly support conducting a lawful strike if a collective agreement is not reached with their management.

In a recent strike ballot issued by the union leadership to the pilot group, an overwhelming 97 percent of pilots voted in favor of a lawful strike, should it become necessary to conclude a fair collective agreement with Air Transat management. The pilots have been in negotiations since January of this year.  

“If the pilots of Air Transat choose to declare a strike, it will be conducted with the extensive resources and the full backing of the nearly 53,000 pilots ALPA represents.” 


“This vote serves as notice to the company that our pilots are united and stand firm behind our goal of achieving a fair and equitable contract,” said Captain Sylvain Aubin, chairman of the Air Transat Master Executive Council (MEC), the unit of ALPA that represents Air Transat pilots. Of the pilots eligible to vote, more than 90 percent participated in the balloting. “Our pilots are seeking a contract that recognizes their contribution to the success of the airline that they have helped to build,” Captain Aubin added.  

In June, Air Transat pilots received a $1 million grant from ALPA’s Major Contingency Fund (MCF), which provides pilot groups with the resources needed for responding when threats to their jobs and their profession are imminent.  

“While Air Transat pilots consider a strike a matter of last resort, this vote demonstrates their steadfast unity in achieving their contract goals,” said Captain John Prater, ALPA’s president. “If the pilots of Air Transat choose to declare a strike, it will be conducted with the extensive resources and the full backing of the nearly 53,000 pilots ALPA represents.”  

On June 25, Canada’s Minister of Labour, Lisa Raitt, appointed Ms. Maureen Flynn to serve as conciliation commissioner. The conciliation time line establishes a series of hard deadlines for negotiators, including a 60-day conciliation period that will expire on September 10, 2010, unless the parties agree to extend the process.  


Under the Canada Labor Code, both the strike authorization vote and written notification to the company are required steps before any withdrawal of services can begin. At the end of conciliation, a mandatory 21-day waiting period will go into effect, which concludes at midnight on October 1, at which time Air Transat pilots will be in a legal position to strike.  

After more than six months of bargaining, substantial issues remain open, particularly in the areas of job outsourcing, pilot fatigue mitigation, and compensation, according to Aubin. The pilots continue to work under a contract that has seen no adjustments to allowances to pension or benefits, and adjustments to concessionary pay scales have fallen well below the rate of inflation. Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada.

Air Transat A.T. Inc. is a budget airline based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, operating scheduled and charter flights, serving 90 destinations in 25 countries. The airline is owned and operated by Thomas Cook Transat A.T. During the summer season its main destinations are Europe and in the winter season the Caribbean, Mexico, USA and South America. Its main base is Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, with hubs at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport. The airline also focuses operations at Calgary International Airport and Québec/Jean Lesage International Airport.


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