Air Canada is throwing in the towel on its ambitious summer travel season, letting passengers know it is in the process of scaling back schedules in July and August in hopes that smoother operations will result.
Air Canada Will Cancel 150 Flights Per Day In July, August To Improve Operations
The summer dumpster fire of air travel is not only impacting flights in the USA, but also to our northern neighbors. With demand surging and employment retention still a struggle, Air Canada is finding itself unable to accommodate the current demand. Yesterday, 62% of Air Canada flights were delayed, which followed a 66% delay rate on Tuesday.
In a letter to past and present customers, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau outlined steps his airline are taking to stop the operational bleed including:
- flexible ticket policies
- new travel self-management tools
- improvements to airport operations
That sounds like fluff in Rousseau’s letter, but there are meaningful improvements, including:
- New self-service re-accommodation tools – to allow customers who have schedule changes, delays, or cancellations to request a refund (if eligible) or rebook their itineraries in a few minutes through the Air Canada mobile app or website
- This includes offering up to 20 alternative flight options (based on availability), choosing to fly to nearby airports instead, and the ability to search for flights in a three-day window
- This will be available for customers regardless of how and where they booked their tickets
- Free standby – customers can enjoy free, same-day stand-by options for earlier flights within Canada/Transborder regardless of fare brand or booking class
- More flexibility for Toronto Pearson passengers – a goodwill policy has been implemented for passengers traveling via Toronto-Pearson to allow them to voluntarily increase their connection time at no cost for more flexibility when traveling
- This policy can be applied within 48 hours of the original travel time
The big change is a preemptive schedule reduction, which will impact roughly 150 flights per day (10% of Air Canada’s overall schedule) during the months of July and August.
This will primarily include frequency reductions, though four routes will be suspended:
- Montreal (YUL) ⇄
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Pittsburgh (PIT)
- Kelowna, British Columbia (YLW)
- Toronto (YYZ) ⇄
- Fort McMurray, Alberta (YMM)
Rosseau claims Air Canada prepared for what it knew would be a busy summer, but “the industry’s complex and unavoidable challenges” have still led to exactly the sort of delays and cancellations Air Canada sought to avoid.
These schedule reductions, according to Rosseau, will not eliminate the problem, but should help them:
“We are convinced these changes will bring about the improvements we have targeted. But to set expectations, it should also be understood the real benefits of this action will take time and be felt only gradually as the industry regains the reliability and robustness it had attained prior to the pandemic.”
Full Letter From Air Canada CEO
Here is the complete letter:
At Air Canada, we know how important travel plans are. This is even more the case today when many are taking their first trip in years following the pandemic. Whether for long‑anticipated vacations, visits with relatives and friends, or for business, we are grateful and recognize our responsibility when people like you entrust your travel to our airline.
Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care. The COVID‑19 pandemic brought the world air transport system to a halt in early 2020. Now, after more than two years, global travel is resurgent, and people are returning to flying at a rate never seen in our industry.
This surge in travel has created unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system. Around the world, there are recurring incidents of flight delays and airport congestion, resulting from a complex array of persistent factors impacting airlines and our partners in the aviation ecosystem. Similar effects are being seen in other industries too, where companies and suppliers are struggling to restart, unclog supply chains and meet pent‑up demand.
At Air Canada, we anticipated many of these factors and began taking tangible action during the depth of the pandemic to be ready for a rapid restart. Yet, despite detailed and careful planning, the largest and fastest scale of hiring in our history, as well as investments in aircraft and equipment, it is now clear that Air Canada’s operations too have been disrupted by the industry’s complex and unavoidable challenges. The result has been flight cancellations and customer service shortfalls on our part that we would never have intended for our customers or for our employees, and for which we sincerely apologize.
In response, we took a number of important steps, including introducing flexible ticket policies, new travel self-management tools, improvements to airport operations, as well adjustments to our schedule ‑ all to strengthen operational resiliency and to give customers more options. However, to bring about the level of operational stability we need, with reluctance, we are now making meaningful reductions to our schedule in July and August in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate.
This was not an easy decision, as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will have a negative impact on some customers. But doing this in advance allows affected customers to take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than have their travel disrupted shortly before or during their journey, with few alternatives available. It will also enable us to more reliably serve all customers.
I can assure you Air Canada is also working in close cooperation with airports, government, and its third‑party service providers, who all are striving to return our industry to pre‑pandemic standards of operation.
We are convinced these changes will bring about the improvements we have targeted. But to set expectations, it should also be understood the real benefits of this action will take time and be felt only gradually as the industry regains the reliability and robustness it had attained prior to the pandemic.
On behalf of all of us at Air Canada, please accept my sincere apologies for any disruption you have experienced or may experience with your travel plans during this unprecedented period. I also assure you that we very clearly see the challenges at hand, that we are taking action, and that we are confident we have the strategy to address them. This is our company’s chief focus at every level.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. We certainly look forward to future opportunities to serve you and regain your loyalty at a time when we can better demonstrate our commitment to taking good care of customers such as yourself.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Air Canada is cutting its July and August schedule as it tries to reset operations and reduce delays and cancellations. While Rousseau has warned this will not solve all issues, there is internal optimism that this will help greatly. If your flight is cancelled, you can rebook via the Air Canada app, website, or call center.
image: Air Canada