Airline pilots implore the Trudeau government to come to the aid of Canadian carriers, which are threatened with bankruptcy as flights to sun destinations have been suspended and foreign companies are taking the opportunity to grab their market share.
Because anyone who really wants to go to the South can still do so by passing through the United States and boarding a flight from one of the major American companies.
“It is possible that it will become the norm after the pandemic, if we do nothing”, sees with concern Jean-François Bergeron, who has 32 years of work behind the tie.
Help in disguise
It has been almost a year now that he has been grounded and survived thanks to the Emergency Wage Subsidy (SSUC).
Set up at the start of the pandemic by Ottawa, this program allows struggling companies to keep their employees with assistance that covers 75% of their compensation, up to a maximum of $ 847 per week.
Ottawa estimated a few weeks ago that carriers had received 1.5 billion in SSUC since the start of the crisis. However, for Mr. Bergeron, this amount is largely insufficient and the Canadian industry deserves specific help to recover.
“The wage subsidy is not really an aid, it is disguised unemployment with some advantages,” he analyzes. If it hadn’t existed, we would have been unemployed anyway, so the government would still have had to spend some of that money. ”
The experienced aviator does not complain about his personal fate. He accommodates the SSUC and he fully understands that in a difficult context pilots have to make certain compromises.
In fact, he’s not so much concerned with the current situation as with the post-COVID post-COVID era, when the big international players are in the saddle to start the recovery, but that Canadian companies are dragging their feet.
“The G20 countries have all given big aid to their carriers, except Canada,” denounced Jean-François Bergeron.
Air France received the equivalent of nearly $ 11 billion in April to extricate itself. German Lufthansa was able to benefit from a boost of around $ 14 billion.
In Canada, the Trudeau government had promised additional aid for the airline industry, but on condition that carriers fully reimburse passengers who had to cancel their trip during the first wave.
“There is no one at the federal level who is worried. It’s a shame! The government prefers to play politics. They only have a short-term vision, ”vehemently lamented Mehran Ebrahimi, an aeronautics specialist.
This professor from the management department at UQAM does not give much of the skin of the Quebec flagship Transat if it is not bought in time by Air Canada.
As for the largest carrier in the country, it will survive the crisis, but it will have lost some markets that it has been trying to develop for several years, believes Mr. Ebrahimi.
He is thinking, among other things, of the connections with China or India that Qatar Airways or Turkish Airlines were able to continue to offer during the crisis thanks to the aid their government paid them.
“I believe when there is a recovery. Many of our pilots, who have a very good reputation around the world, will go and work for these companies. You have to remember that before the pandemic, there was a shortage of pilots, ”said Ebrahimi.
Jean-François Bergeron would like to continue flying on the wings of a local company, but it will not be tomorrow the day before.
“People don’t know it, but pilots have to do two simulator sessions every six months,” he explains. Except that everything is stopped there, as the companies have no more money. So when the industry starts up again, we won’t be able to start again immediately, as we will have to get up to speed for several weeks. “
“And that is expensive and the companies will not have strong enough backs for that”, he apprehends.