Air Transat Lays Off Its Pilots And Outsources To Foreign Pilots


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Air Transat Lays Off Its Pilots And Outsources To Foreign Pilots

By Mike Mitchell

November 29, 2011 – The Air Transat pilots’, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), reacted to the announcement of the layoff of 17 pilots and denounced the airline’s subcontracting strategy which utilizes seasonal foreign workers.

Air Transat sent layoff notices to 17 of its pilots. Based in Toronto, and hailing from Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, these pilots will be out of work starting December 19. Air Transat cited its recent financial results and a decrease in flight hours as justification for the layoffs.

The Company has not yet ruled out the possibility of more layoffs. The holding company, Transat A.T., has an agreement with CanJet Airlines to operate a portion of Air Transat flights to southern destinations this winter. Canjet will use additional seasonal aircraft and hire foreign pilots to meet its staffing needs.

“These layoffs are a major blow, not only to Air Transat pilots, but to all Canadian pilots,” said Capt. Sylvain Aubin, chairman of Air Transat pilots’ master executive council. “The fact that Transat A.T., through CanJet, is using foreign pilots when its own pilots are out of work is reprehensible. It’s time to put an end to these practices. 

Despite there being unemployed pilots in Canada, the federal government has authorized some airlines to hire foreign pilots under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Reports indicate that this winter alone, Canjet and Sunwing have hired over 35 and 180 foreign pilots respectively. 

Capt. Dan Adamus, President of ALPA’s Canada Board, added: “The hiring of even a single foreign pilot, when there are unemployed Canadian pilots, is unacceptable. The issue of hiring foreign pilots and its impacts on the labor force are subjects that need to be taken seriously by the federal government. Some airline managements have been abusing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by using it for competitive advantages instead of filling a labor shortage as originally envisioned by the legislation.” 

ALPA Canada has been lobbying the government for changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and will be raising the issue again when it appears before the Senate Permanent Committee on Transport and Communication on Wednesday.

Air Transat is an airline based in Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, operating scheduled and charter flights, serving 90 destinations in 26 countries. The airline is owned and operated by Transat A.T. Inc. During the summer season its main destinations are Europe and in the winter season the Caribbean, Mexico, USA and Central America. 
Its main Canadian gateways are Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport. The airline also has operations at Calgary International Airport, Québec/Jean Lesage International Airport and others. Air Transat employs 430 pilots based in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.

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