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Air Canada pilot says airport chaos is the government’s fault

Keean Bexte

August 12, 2022

Recently, while jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the overcrowded Montréal–Trudeau International Airport, an Air Canada pilot told me the government was solely responsible for the mess.

Air Canada pilot says airport chaos is the government's fault
Air Canada pilot says airport chaos is the government’s fault

Inquiring about wait times, cancellations, and general chaos at Trudeau International, I asked a pilot struggling to get to his plane, “Who’s fault is it?”

“It’s the government’s fault,” he responded without missing a beat.

A woman nearby came to Trudeau’s aid, saying, “It’s not the government. It’s the airlines.”

But the pilot was adamant.

“No, it’s not. No, it’s not. It’s the airport authority,” he said, pushing through the crowd.

Unfortunately, the overworked pilot, who said he “gets to do this every day,” was needed elsewhere, and I couldn’t ask a follow-up question.

Nevertheless, when even pilots are mad at the government’s bogging down the travel industry, you know it’s time for a change.

There are several factors impacting the travel industry, nearly all of which stem from Canada’s lingering COVID travel policies which serve no purpose besides causing delays.

Such policies include random COVID testing and Canada’s mandatory, tedious, rights-violating ArriveCan app. Besides leading to confrontations with authorities when Canadians refuse to comply, ArriveCan has also led to thousands of dollars in fines, even for elderly people who don’t use smartphones.

Staff shortages, which began amid vaccine mandate-related layoffs, have also been acknowledged by the remaining staff as a significant contributor to baggage delays and obscene lineups. This is further exacerbated by workers who consistently work overtime having to regularly submit negative COVID tests if they want to continue working.

Coupled with a surge in travellers looking to leave Canada (many of whom are likely unvaccinated and are just now legally allowed to travel), airlines are facing a perfect storm.

This has led to Toronto Pearson Airport being ranked the worst airport for delays in the world and the fourth worst airport for cancellations.

Moreover, likely due to the financially untenable number of cancellations, Air Canada has decided to classify all cancellations resulting from their staff shortage as a “safety-related issue,” giving the airline the means to avoid compensating travellers’ rights to receive compensation for cancellations.

“Since your Air Canada flight was delayed/cancelled due to crew constraints resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations, the compensation you are requesting does not apply because the delay/cancellation was caused by a safety-related issue,” reads an email from Air Canada in July.

It’s an unacceptable state of affairs, and while the transport committee recently held an emergency meeting to go ahead with an investigation into delays and cancellations, hardly any action has been taken to remedy the problem. The Trudeau government won’t even consider ditching ArriveCan, and while random COVID testing was suspended, it’s only temporary.

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