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Monday,  June 24, 2024 1:18 PM 

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

  • Air
  •   12-11-2023  1:25 am
  •   Pax Global Media

With a possible strike on the horizon, Air Transat reassures travel advisors
(Air Transat)
Pax Global Media

Amid the possibility of flight attendants taking strike action at Air Transat, the airline has issued a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to travel advisors to help clear the air.

“For the moment, there is no strike,” the airline writes. “Obtaining a strike mandate by the union is a normal process…and does not necessarily mean that a strike will be declared.”

Last month, 2,100 flight attendant members at Air Transat approved a strike mandate, according to the group’s union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), on Nov. 27.

The move was approved during general meetings by a nearly unanimous vote of 99.8 per cent, which CUPE says is the highest tally in the history of its Air Transat Component.

The vote reflects the flight attendants' exceptionally “high level of dissatisfaction with their working conditions,” CUPE said, particularly with wages and purchasing power.

"Over the past 15 years, our members have had to make significant sacrifices during challenging times for the industry. 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," stated Dominic Levasseur, president of the Air Transat Component of CUPE, in a press release at the time.

“Critical” next few weeks

The next few weeks of negotiations “will be critical,” Levasseur added.

If there is a strike, it could possibly unfold at the height of the winter/holiday travel rush – on Jan. 3, 2024, “at the earliest,” Air Transat says.

And if that happens: “It should be anticipated that all flights will be cancelled,” CUPE has added.

Discussions are progressing

Air Transat, meanwhile, tells travel advisors that discussions are progressing well.

The Montreal-based company claims to maintain excellent working relationships with its employees and union representatives, and that it is making all the necessary efforts to find an agreement that will satisfy both parties.

“We are aware of the importance of the holiday season for your customers and want to avoid, at all costs, that they have to change their plans in the coming weeks,” Air Transat writes in its FAQ.

The company adds:

“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.”

Can customers cancel or modify their reservation?

“We are committed to keeping you informed of any developments [that are] likely to impact flights,” Air Transat tells travel advisors, noting that customers can alter their reservation according to the terms and conditions of their fare class.

“It’s starting to stress me out”

Regardless, the situation is on the radar of travel advisors.  

“It’s starting to stress me out, yes,” a travel agent, speaking anonymously, told PAX Nouvelles, PAX’s Quebec bureau. “Clients are concerned themselves. And with good reason!”

“People would like to cancel and rebook with other airlines, but they are stuck.”

Nevertheless, the advisor is confident that the two parties will find a solution and avoid a disruption.

“I’m certain that things will work out. Transat cannot afford [a strike],” the agent said.  

The issue of unpaid work is also a subject of the current negotiations. For more on this, click here