Air Canada announced Tuesday that it would be cutting 17 more transborder and international routes. As a result, the carrier will temporarily lay off another 1,500 staff. This will bring the total of airline job cuts in Canada since the start of the new year up to 5,000. Unions are not happy with the lack of aid from the Canadian government.

Seventeen more routes cut

Unfortunately, we have not yet seen the last of the fallout from the ongoing pandemic on airlines and their employees. Even as the largest vaccination effort in history rolls out across the globe, travel restrictions remain firmly in place.

Air Canada announced yesterday it would temporarily lay off 1,500 unionized employees and an unspecified number of management staff as it cuts even more international services from its schedule.

From February 18th until at least April 30th, Air Canada is suspending 17 more transborder and international routes out of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

“We are further reducing our transborder and international commercial schedule as a result of COVID-19,” a spokesperson for Air Canada shared with CP24. “Affected customers with bookings will be contacted with options, including alternate routings.”

According to the Daily Hive, the affected transborder routes out of Toronto are to Boston, Denver, Fort Myers, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, DC. Out of Montreal, the routes suspended are to Boston and LaGuardia. From Vancouver, service is halted to Seattle.

International routes canceled from Toronto are to Bogotá, Dubai, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, São Paulo, and Tel Aviv. Flights to Bogotá are also halted from Montreal, whereas services are suspended out of Vancouver to London and Dublin.

Simple Flying has reached out to Air Canada for further comment but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

Unions are calling for a sector-specific plan

Union representatives are not happy about the impact the government’s restrictions are having on its members and the industry as a whole. Since the start of the new year, Air Canada has already cut 1,700 jobs, WestJet 1,000, and Air Transat has furloughed 450 workers.

Wesley Lesosky, president for the Air Canada division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), told CP24 that,

“We appreciate the need for measures to prevent the spread of new variants of COVID-19 in Canada. But restrictions have to be accompanied by solutions.

“Instead of working with us, the government is working against us, and one year into this pandemic, Canada remains the only country in the G7 without a plan to help the airline sector weather the pandemic, and defend tens of thousands of good jobs.”

Air Canada Rouge already on ice

The move comes just days after the announcement that the carrier would be pausing its Air Canada Rouge operations. This also led to a workforce reduction of 80 positions. The low-cost subsidiary halted all flights as of Monday, February 8th.

Canadian airlines have also agreed with the authorities to suspend flights to leisure destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean for 90 days since January 31st. Concerns are that travel during the spring break period would be especially detrimental to efforts to limit the spread of new variants of COVID-19.

This impacted 15 Air Canada destinations throughout the region. However, the airline said that the effect on cash burn would not be material due to the already reduced passenger traffic levels.

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