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Wednesday,  June 12, 2024 12:37 PM 

Air Transat “disappointed” as flight attendants reject tentative agreement by 98%

  • Air
  •   01-03-2024  1:37 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Air Transat “disappointed” as flight attendants reject tentative agreement by 98%
(Air Transat)
Pax Global Media

It may have averted a possible strike during the holiday travel rush period, but the agreement in principle reached between Air Transat and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) on Dec. 14 doesn’t appear to hold the same weight in 2024.

CUPE on Tuesday (Jan. 2) announced that Air Transat’s 2,100 flight attendant members have rejected the tentative agreement that was reached last month just before the holiday season ramped up.

In general meetings from Dec. 20 to 23, members voted 98.1 per cent to refuse it, with a participation rate of 87 per cent.

The insufficiency of salary increases, linked to the cost of living, and the stagnation of remuneration in previous years, were the main reasons for the outcome.

READ MORE: Air Transat reaches agreement in principle with flight attendant union

Air Transat and CUPE now plan to resume negotiations this week, starting Wednesday (Jan. 3).

Given the particularly high level of dissatisfaction among members, it will still be possible for the union to file a strike notice, CUPE said.

However, there is currently no strike notice or lockout issued by either party, and both are “keen to reach a new agreement quickly,” Air Transat wrote in a statement on Tuesday (Jan. 2).

“Disappointed by this outcome”

Flight attendants at Air Transat approved a strike mandate on Nov. 27, 2023.

"Over the past 15 years, our members have had to make significant sacrifices during challenging times for the industry,” stated Dominic Levasseur, president of the Air Transat Component of CUPE, in a press release at the time. “Now, faced with the dizzying rise in the cost of living and the industry's favourable prospects, they are ready to take action.’

“More than 50 per cent of them have been forced to take on a second or even a third job to make ends meet, and their starting salary is only $26,577 per year.”

Flight attendants at Air Transat first approved a strike mandate on Nov. 27, 2023. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

Air Transat says the tentative agreement it initially presented to members in December was approved by CUPE’s union executive, without restriction, and “seemed to meet the main interests discussed.”

It appears that things have changed in the new year.

"We had reached a tentative agreement negotiated in good faith, which met the interests of both parties," said Julie Lamontagne, chief people, sustainability and communications officer of Transat, on Tuesday. "We are disappointed by this outcome, as we were confident that the tentative agreement would be accepted by the majority of our flight attendants. We are returning to the bargaining table, and our objective remains to find common ground as soon as possible."

READ MORE: With a possible strike on the horizon, Air Transat reassures travel advisors

Last month, Air Transat was certain that an agreement with its flight attendants would be reached, assuring Canadian travel advisors that the talks were going well.

“It is important to remember that both parties share the same objective and are currently making the necessary efforts to avoid any impact on operations,” Air Transat wrote in an FAQ for the trade that was released at the time.

What if there’s a strike?

Currently, all Air Transat flights are maintained, and the usual terms and conditions apply, the airline said yesterday.

Customers wishing to cancel or modify their reservation may do so according to the terms and conditions of their fare class, the airline says.

In the event of a formal strike notice filed by the union and the subsequent cancellation of certain flights, Air Transat says it will meet all its obligations as a carrier to accommodate its travellers.

READ MORE: Transat turns Q4 profit, sells equity interest in Marival Armony resort

“This would include the offer of a new ticket on a next available flight or that of a partner airline if such an option exists within 48 hours of the original departure time, or the refund of any unused portion of the trip,” the airline wrote in a statement on its website.

For those who have booked a package and are at destination and whose stay may be extended, “Transat will cover any additional costs incurred,” the company said.

To see the latest details, visit Air Transat’s website, in the Important notices and news section.

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