Sunday, January 25, 2009

Layoffs for 345 more Air Canada flight attendants

Air Canada Boeing 777Air Canada has announced to its staff that it will reduce its flight attendant work force by 345 in early March of this year. The layoffs are a result of the carrier's plans to use one less flight attendant in its business-class cabins on transatlantic flights. Canada's largest airline also is reducing the frequency of flights on certain routes, and using smaller aircraft on other routes. Air Canada currently employs some 5,700 flight attendants.

Several officials of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents Air Canada flight attendants, spoke to the media regarding yesterday's announced job cuts, saying they were unexpected.

Cidalia Ribeiro, president of CUPE Local 4092, told, "They're just saying it's a cost reduction exercise and they're cutting back service on some of our overseas flights."

Ribeiro said at least half of the affected flight attendants are based at Toronto. Air Canada reportedly told its employees that the layoffs are expected to be temporary, and that some might be recalled as early as April.

An article in the Montreal Gazette about the proposed job cuts quoted Paul Moist, national president of the CUPE, who said the loss of hundreds of additional flight attendant jobs means "more pain, and we’re extremely concerned."

Moist also expressed concern that reducing the number of flight attendants on flights on the trans-Atlantic route could have a negative effect on service, and could potentially compromise safety as well.

Air Canada reduced its work force by 2,000 employees in the summer of 2008. Among those laid off were about 600 flight attendants.

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