MONTREAL — Air Canada is slicing 1,700 careers and scaling down its functions as the cumulative effects of lockdown limitations, slumping journey need and new COVID-19 tests procedures take their toll on the airline marketplace.

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The 25 for every cent reduction in provider for the initially quarter of 2021 will also have an affect on 200 personnel at Air Canada’s Categorical carriers, the corporation mentioned Wednesday early morning.

“We regret the influence these tough choices will have on our staff members who have worked very tricky through the pandemic on the lookout following our customers, as effectively as on the impacted communities,” stated Lucie Guillemette, Air Canada’s executive vice president and main commercial officer, in a statement.

Guillemette claimed greater journey restrictions by federal and provincial governments have experienced an speedy affect on the company’s bookings.

The transfer will come five times after rival WestJet Airways introduced that up to 1,000 staff members will be furloughed, briefly laid off, put on unpaid leave or have their several hours cut, and that it will chop about 30 per cent of its ability for February and March and pull 160 domestic departures from its program.

WestJet CEO Ed Sims laid the blame squarely on “incoherent” federal govt policy with regard to the new COVID-19 testing demands for passengers returning to Canada.

Unifor, the union which represents client revenue and support brokers and shopper relations associates at Air Canada, said the cuts could have been lessened if Ottawa had developed a program to aid the aviation market.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias stated aid for airline workers requirements to be an speedy priority for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra who was named to the position this week in a cabinet shuffle that saw Marc Garneau shift to foreign affairs.

“Present-day announcement leaves airline employees with ongoing disappointment in the federal government’s absence of motion to assist the sector,” Dias mentioned in a assertion.

With the reduction, Air Canada’s potential in the initial quarter of 2021 will be about 20 for each cent of its potential throughout the 1st quarter of 2019, the company states.

Air Canada notified airports in Atlantic Canada this week that it would reduce further routes in the area, suspending all flights in Gander, N.L., Goose Bay, N.L., and Fredericton, N.B., until additional see as of Jan. 23.

Air Canada will also suspend all passenger functions to Yellowknife, N.W.T. as of Jan. 23, the territory’s minister of infrastructure, Diane Archie, claimed in a statement Tuesday.

Other airlines will proceed to function flights to the city, and the cuts will not have an effect on the Northwest Territories’ ability to offer critical solutions these as health care vacation, Archie explained.

Allison St-Jean, a spokeswoman for Alghabra, claimed the government was upset by airlines’ selection to cancel far more regional routes.

“Accessibility of all of our areas is crucial and air inbound links are essential to regional economic improvement and prosperity,” St-Jean mentioned.

Air Canada is getting in contact with afflicted prospects to supply them options these as refunds or different vacation preparations, the company explained.

The cuts appear just times just after Air Canada’s most current spherical of support reductions in Atlantic Canada went into influence on Jan. 11.

Monette Pasher, the govt director of the Atlantic Canada Airports Association, reported in a assertion that the repercussions of the services cuts would be felt for several years to appear in communities in Atlantic Canada.

“We can not just flip a swap to turn air service back on when we get to the other side of this pandemic,” Pasher mentioned. “We are heading to have a very long difficult road forward of us to rebuild air obtain for our region.”

This report by The Canadian Press was initially released Jan. 13, 2021.

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Jon Victor, The Canadian Push