The Airline Pilots Association of Canada has strongly criticised Ottawa for procrastinating in responding to the COVID-19 crisis in Canadian aviation after WestJet (WS, Calgary) laid off another 415 pilots on April 1, 2021, while uncertainty continues at other major carriers, including Air Transat (TS, Montréal Trudeau).

“Unfortunately, the government continues in its failure to respond adequately to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on Canada's aviation sector. As the government continues to procrastinate, the industry grows more vulnerable with every passing day, and jobs continue to disappear,” charged Tim Perry, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l (ALPA) Canada, who was amongst those laid-off at WestJet.

“Almost 10,000 WestJet careers remain in limbo, with only 4,800 employees remaining on staff, compared to the 14,000 employed just 12 months ago,” he said.

In addition, the employment status of nearly 5,000 highly skilled workers at Air Transat remained unknown. “In addition to failing to mitigate the fallout from the pandemic, our government spent 18 months deliberating over the pending sale of this airline to another industry competitor, which only added more uncertainty,” he added. The future of Air Transat remains uncertain after Air Canada (AC, Montréal Trudeau) recently abandoned its plans to acquire the airline following a failed attempt to secure antitrust consent from the European Commission (EC).

Before COVID-19, the industry had employed more than 141,000 Canadians with an economic footprint of CAD50 billion (USD39.8 billion), which supported millions of other good jobs, and families, throughout the country,” ALPA Canada said in a statement.

"ALPA's position to the government on how to help the industry weather the storm has, since the beginning of the pandemic, remained consistent — work with us to fully assess solutions to ensure a strong, stable industry, before it's too late.

“With the federal budget less than three weeks away, we will continue to promote our many articulate and science-based recommendations, and we strongly encourage the government to ensure labour groups, such as ALPA Canada, are part of discussions regarding the implementation of an aviation-specific financial assistance program that provides direct support to airlines that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any financial assistance for the industry that does not support employees would be considered a failure of this government,” the association said.

ALPA is the world's largest airline pilot union, representing nearly 59,000 pilots at 35 airlines in the US and Canada.