(Montreal) Canadian airlines and airports were among the most affected in the world by delays during the July long weekend, according to a specialized firm.
Air Canada ranked first for delays on Saturday and Sunday. Two-thirds of its flights, or 717 in total, took off late, according to the tracking service FlightAware. With a 67% delay rate on Sunday, it stood more than 14 percentage points above the three carriers tied for second place.
Jazz Aviation — a Halifax-based company that provides regional service for Air Canada — and low-cost airline Air Canada Rouge both saw 53% of their flights delayed, putting them second on Sunday alongside the regional airline Greek Olympic Air.
Carrier WestJet and its low-cost subsidiary Swoop ranked third and fourth for delays on Saturday, with 55% of their flights late.
On the facilities side, Toronto Pearson airport claimed second place on Sunday, with 53% delayed departures. Only China’s Guangzhou airport did worse. Pearson has experienced more delays than Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
Montreal-Trudeau International Airport ranked sixth on Sunday with 43% delayed takeoffs, tied with Heathrow Airport in London, according to FlightAware data.
Air Canada announced last week that it would cut more than 15% of its summer schedule, or nearly 10,000 flights in July and August, as the country’s airline network sags under an overwhelming upsurge in travel.
Caught between public holidays in Canada and the United States, the weekend saw scenes of long queues and baggage mazes flood social media, as airports around the world grappled with the start of the peak travel season after two years of pent-up demand.
Passenger flow at Canadian airports is already at 2019 levels during peak hours, though closer to 80% of overall pre-pandemic volume, experts say.
“It’s going to be with us all summer,” warned Helane Becker, airline analyst for investment firm Cowen.
“Almost all airlines have encouraged their staff to retire early or take time off. And those people who took early retirement may not want to come back to work,” she observed.
“It is difficult to rebuild after this trough. »
Some pilots have yet to have their licenses renewed, while ground staff and baggage handling positions remain vacant — or quickly vacated — due to low pay and stressful working conditions, unions say.
According to the federal Department of Transportation, government agencies have been on a spree of hiring for airport security and customs, with more than 900 new security screening officers in place since April — although not all have the permission to operate the scanners.
Air Canada has hired more than 2,000 airport workers and more than 750 in customer service centers this year, for a workforce exceeding 32,000 employees, or 93% of 2019 levels.
“Airlines have also used the pandemic to eliminate certain types of aircraft from their fleets, and to ground and retire their older aircraft. It’s hard to bring those planes back once you’ve parked them without doing a lot of maintenance,” M added.me Becker.
“As demand continues to increase, we are essentially looking at an inability for airlines to easily meet it. And I think that’s the case all over the world. »
In a memo obtained by The Canadian Press, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau warned his staff Wednesday evening that “this Canada Day weekend will be difficult.”
The streamlining of schedules is unlikely to allow the airline “to see the full benefits until the end of July”, he added.
In an email to passengers the same evening, Mr Rousseau apologized for the cancellations and “customer service faults”, but also said the reduction in flights stemmed from tensions on the “global aviation system”, which he described as “unprecedented and unforeseen”.
A trend since the beginning of the year
Canada’s presence at the top of the lists of delay statistics follows a trend that has been going on for six months.
Since January, Canada’s two largest airlines or their affiliates have made up five of the top seven airlines for the proportion of late flights, according to FlightAware.
WestJet’s Swoop ranks 2e rank with 50% and Air Canada is at 7e rank with 43%. Regional subsidiaries WestJet Encore, Air Canada Rouge and Jazz Aviation fall between the two.
Growing crowds in international arrivals areas prompted the Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s fire chief to issue a directive warning of potential ‘danger’ caused by obstructed exits and ‘life safety concerns’ .
“Passenger congestion at the arrival transfer level of Terminals 1 and 3 continues to exceed acceptable levels at times, which is in part due to some air carriers not following the established holding procedure in the purpose of maintaining security in the buildings of the terminal, “warned Todd Aitken in an order dated June 23 and obtained by The Canadian Press.