Canadian airlines, airports top global list of delays over the weekend
The Canadian PressNews airport security
By Christopher Reynolds in Montreal
Canadian airlines and airports claimed top spots in flight delays over the July long weekend, notching more than nearly any other around the world.
Air Canada ranked No. 1 in delays on Saturday and Sunday as two-thirds of its flights — 717 trips in total — took off late, according to tracking service FlightAware. It was more than 14 percentage points above the three carriers tied for second place.
Jazz Aviation — a Halifax-based company that provides regional service for Air Canada — and the lower-cost Air Canada Rouge both saw 53 per cent of flights delayed, putting them in the No. 2 spot alongside Greek regional airline Olympic Air.
On Saturday, WestJet and budget subsidiary Swoop placed third and fourth at 55 per cent.
On the airport front, Toronto’s Pearson claimed the No. 2 spot Sunday after 53 per cent of departures were held up, below only Guangzhou’s main airport in China. Pearson beat out Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
Montreal’s airport placed sixth Sunday at 43 per cent of takeoffs delayed, on par with London’s Heathrow, according to FlightAware figures.
Air Canada said last week it will cut more than 15 per cent of its summer schedule, nearly 10,000 flights in July and August, as the country’s aviation network sags under an overwhelming travel resurgence.
Bookended by statutory holidays in Canada and the U.S., the weekend saw scenes of long lines and luggage labyrinths flood social media as airports across the globe grappled with the start of peak travel season following two years of pent-up demand.
Passenger flow at Canadian airports is already at 2019 levels during peak times, though closer to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes overall, experts say.
“This is going to be with us all summer,” said Helane Becker, an airline analyst for investment firm Cowen.
“Almost every airline encouraged people to retire early or take leaves. And those people that retired early maybe don’t want to come back to work,” she said of airline employees.
“It’s hard to rebuild off those lows.”
Some pilots have not yet had their licences renewed, while positions with groundcrews and baggage handling remain unfilled — or quickly vacated — due to low wages and stressful work conditions, unions say.
Government agencies have been on a hiring spree for airport security and customs, with 900-plus new security screeners in place since April — though not all have clearance to work the scanners — according to the federal Transport Department.
“The airlines also used the pandemic to eliminate aircraft types from their fleet, and to ground and retire their oldest aircraft. It’s hard to bring these aircraft back once you park them without doing a lot of maintenance,” Becker added.
“As demand continues to surge, we’re basically looking at an inability for the airlines to easily accommodate it. And I think that’s true worldwide.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2022.
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