Air Canada reducing summer flights as industry faces ‘unprecedented strains’ on travel operations
Air Canada, AC-T -2.29%decrease citing “unprecedented strains” on the airline industry from resurgent travel, says it is cancelling 154 flights per day in July and August, or 15 per cent of its schedule.
“Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” chief executive Michael Rousseau said in a message to customers Wednesday night.
“Despite detailed and careful planning, the largest and fastest scale of hiring in our history, as well as investments in aircraft and equipment, it is now clear that Air Canada’s operations too have been disrupted by the industry’s complex and unavoidable challenges.”
Mr. Rousseau’s customer message did not provide details on the reductions, but Air Canada gave specifics in a response to questions from The Globe and Mail.
The airline said it is reducing its schedule, on average, by 77 round trips, or 154 flights, a day in total for July and August. Air Canada currently operates on average about 1,000 flights a day.
Three routes from Montreal to Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna will be temporarily suspended. Air Canada will also suspend its route from Toronto to Fort McMurray.
Most of the flights affected are to and from Toronto or Montreal, Air Canada said. “These will be mostly frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft, on transborder and domestic routes,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement. “Our international flights are unaffected, with a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times and even out the customer flow.”
As travellers returned to the skies in 2022 after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s airline infrastructure struggled to keep up. Travellers to Toronto’s Pearson airport have fared poorly, with massive line-ups at check-in, security and customs.
Air Canada cancelled more than 350 flights at Pearson in the first seven days of June – almost 10 per cent of its schedule – as staffing shortages and a surge in passengers beleaguered Canada’s busiest airport. WestJet and Air Transat also had delays and cancellations at Pearson. Airports in Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver experienced bottlenecks, but not to the extent of Pearson.
In his customer message, Mr. Rousseau described “flight cancellations and customer service shortfalls on our part that we would never have intended for our customers or for our employees, and for which we sincerely apologize.”
“This was not an easy decision, as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will hav
ive impact on some customers. But doing this in advance allows affected customers to take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than have their travel disrupted shortly before or during their journey, with few alternatives available. It will also enable us to more reliably serve all customers.”
Shortly after the e-mail went out, Air Canada said its website was ”currently experiencing technical issues that may prevent you from retrieving your booking online … We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and appreciate your patience.”