In an effort to deal with the surge in travel, Air Canada has announced that it’s reducing its schedule by on average, 77 roundtrips (or 154 flights) per day in total for July and August. Those changes began yesterday (June 29).
Prior to this, Air Canada operated on average about 1,000 flights a day. Three routes will be temporarily suspended between Montreal and: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kelowna and one from Toronto to Fort McMurray.
As well, the airline said that most of the flights affected are to and from its Toronto and Montreal hubs. Those will be mostly frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft on transborder and domestic routes. The carrier said that its international flights are unaffected, with a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times and to even out the customer flow.
And Air Canada added that customers will be notified automatically when flights are cancelled and that it will offer options if available at the time, or it will search for alternatives if they wish, or customers can request a refund.
In a letter to customers, Air Canada’s president and chief executive officer, Michael Rousseau wrote:
“At Air Canada, we know how important travel plans are. This is even more the case today when many are taking their first trip in years following the pandemic. Whether for long‑anticipated vacations, visits with relatives and friends, or for business, we are grateful and recognize our responsibility when people like you entrust your travel to our airline.”
“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. The COVID‑19 pandemic brought the world air transport system to a halt in early 2020. Now, after more than two years, global travel is resurgent, and people are returning to flying at a rate never seen in our industry.”
Rousseau said that:
“This surge in travel has created unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system. Around the world, there are recurring incidents of flight delays and airport congestion, resulting from a complex array of persistent factors impacting airlines and our partners in the aviation ecosystem. Similar effects are being seen in other industries too, where companies and suppliers are struggling to restart, unclog supply chains and meet pent‑up demand.”
The president and chief executive officer explained:
“At Air Canada, we anticipated many of these factors and began taking tangible action during the depth of the pandemic to be ready for a rapid restart. Yet, 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. The result has been 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.”
He pointed out that:
“In response, we took a number of important steps, including introducing flexible ticket policies, new travel self-management tools, improvements to airport operations, as well adjustments to our schedule ‑ all to strengthen operational resiliency and to give customers more options. However, to bring about the level of operational stability we need, with reluctance, we are now making meaningful reductions to our schedule in July and August in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate.”
And Rousseau made it clear:
“This was not an easy decision, as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will have a negative 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.”
“I can assure you Air Canada is also working in close cooperation with airports, government, and its third‑party service providers, who all are striving to return our industry to pre‑pandemic standards of operation. We are convinced these changes will bring about the improvements we have targeted. But to set expectations, it should also be understood the real benefits of this action will take time and be felt only gradually as the industry regains the reliability and robustness it had attained prior to the pandemic.”
And Rousseau concludes:
“On behalf of all of us at Air Canada, please accept my sincere apologies for any disruption you have experienced or may experience with your travel plans during this unprecedented period. I also assure you that we very clearly see the challenges at hand, that we are taking action, and that we are confident we have the strategy to address them. This is our company’s chief focus at every level. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We certainly look forward to future opportunities to serve you and regain your loyalty at a time when we can better demonstrate our commitment to taking good care of customers such as yourself.”