UCTE met on February 1 with representatives of both the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Labour to discuss the challenges faced within the aviation sector as a whole and not just the airline industry.

Four specific issues were raised:

  • Although the federal government’s wage subsidy programs have been of assistance, some airports have used it to cover the layoff notices of members. More needs to be done to help airports and Nav Canada on the operational side of the equation.
  • Regional airports are struggling and some face closure. UCTE recommends expanding announced programs to help airports remain viable.
  • The announced Essential Air Support Program is geared towards helping northern regional airlines but not airports or Nav Canada. All smaller airports are in financial difficulty and therefore without assistance those airlines will not have the infrastructure they need for landings and take offs.
  • UCTE recognizes that changes to the Civil Aviation Regulations were necessary as a result of the impacts of the pandemic, however we are concerned that these changes need to be returned and to be more in line with ICAO standards after the pandemic is over.

All parties agreed that the aviation sector is essential, and this is why they were originally under the protection of Transport Canada. Smaller airports are vulnerable, and any assistance to airlines needs to include reinstating routes.

At the center of the presentation, UCTE reiterated that people need to be protected above and beyond any assistance program or the language of their collective agreements.

The meeting ended with the Ministers’ representatives and UCTE agreeing to continue discussions in the future.