Air Canada calls Industrial Relations Board

Air Canada has asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to step in after an unusually high number of pilots called in sick over the weekend, causing some flights to be cancelled or delayed.

Air Canada has asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to step in after an unusually high number of pilots called in sick over the weekend, causing some flights to be cancelled or delayed.

“Air Canada experienced numerous delays and cancellations over the weekend. While weather, a disruption caused by a fire at our major hub in Toronto, and other factors affected our operation, some impact was the result of a higher-than usual pilot book-offs,” airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said Sunday.

“While Air Canada supports the right of its employees to book off when they are unwell or otherwise unfit to work, we cannot condone such activities as part of industrial action to disrupt our operations and we have asked the CIRB to intervene.”

The union representing the pilots did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Air Canada is in the middle of a bitter labour dispute with its pilots that prompted the federal government to step in earlier this month.

In the face of a threatened lockout by pilots and a strike by ground crew, the federal government referred the matter to the Canada Industrial Relations Board and also passed back-to-work legislation last week that referred the disputes to arbitration.

Numerous Air Canada flights were cancelled or delayed in Montreal on Saturday, prompting the airline to say it was facing a number of “operational challenges.”

The situation worsened on Sunday when Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was forced to close one of its runways after a fire in a maintenance area on the airfield damaged electrical systems required to operate runway lights.

In the morning’s low visibility, the runway couldn’t be used without sufficient lighting.

The closure of one of the airport’s five runways, combined with the heavy fog, caused widespread flight delays and cancellations as the airport’s capacity for arrivals and departures was reduced.

The runway was back in service just before 11 a.m. after the fog lifted and congestion at Canada’s busiest airport appeared to ease Sunday afternoon.

Flight cancellations at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport seemed to dwindle by late afternoon, though the airport’s website showed delays stretching well into the evening.

Scott Armstrong, a spokesman for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, said the ripple effect of the morning delays and cancellations was expected to continue throughout the day.

“What you see is delays in flights, but also you see the airlines make adjustments in their schedules. So they may decide to cancel one flight and consolidate. So instead of two flights going out to Montreal for example, they’ll put all the passengers on one flight and send out one full plane.”

Armstrong urged all travellers to double-check their flight status before heading to the airport.

The disruptions in Toronto came as thousands of March Break travellers were heading home.

Air Canada, which cancelled a number of flights out of Toronto, said it had to scrap or delay several flights as a result of the “significant reduction” in runway operations Sunday morning.

“Although restrictions have been relaxed, earlier this morning the GTAA was allowing only 12 aircraft movements at the airport versus 50 or more normally,” Fitzpatrick said. “As a result we had to cancel and delay a number of flights this morning.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo).
Red Deer’s downtown restaurants can apply for patio licences

It will allow for expanded seating capacity

Some workers at Sobeys in Rocky Mountain House have recently tested positive for COVID-19. (File photo)
Sobeys in Rocky Mountain House reports COVID-19 workers

10 positive tests since last Thursday

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

63 per cent said equality between men and women has not been achieved

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, anti-coup protesters run as one of them discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by riot policemen in Yangon, Myanmar. The escalation of violence in Myanmar as authorities crack down on protests against the Feb. 1 coup is adding to pressure for more sanctions against the junta, as countries struggle over how to best confront military leaders inured to global condemnation. (AP Photo/File)
Escalating violence raises pressure for Myanmar sanctions

More shootings were reported over the weekend

A moth-killing drone hovers over crops in a green house in Monster, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. A Dutch startup is using drones to kill moths in midair as a way of protecting valuable crops in greenhouses that are damaged by caterpillars. PATS Indoor Drone Solutions emerged from the work of a group of students looking for ways to kill mosquitos in their dorm rooms. The drones themselves are very basic, but they are steered by smart technology and special cameras that scan the airspace in greenhouses. When the cameras detect a moth, a drone is set on a collision course with the bug, destroying the bug with its rotors. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
Drones vs hungry moths: Dutch use hi-tech to protect crops

Drones instantly kill the moths by flying into them

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Seasons changing: Hope around the corner with vaccines

The month of March is leaving its muddy footprint on the land… Continue reading

Hamilton Forge FC’s Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia’s Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Forge FC owner Bob Young says the Canadian Premier League champions will be playing the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC at a disadvantage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC owner upset at Canada Soccer’s timing of Canadian Championship final

Winner of Canadian Championship final earns a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League

Team Wild Card Two skip Kevin Koe reacts to his shot as he plays Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the Brier in Calgary, Alta., on March 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Wild Card Two’s Koe beats Gushue 9-7 to hand defending champs first loss at the Brier

Gushue was a tad heavy with his final draw and Koe picked it out for the victory

(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No regrets: Grammy-nominated DJ Jayda G on choosing beats over sciences career

TORONTO — House music producer Jayda G knows a thing or two… Continue reading

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, left, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaking about expecting their second child during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” airs March 7 as a two-hour exclusive primetime special on the CBS Television Network. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
UK royals absorb shock of revealing Harry, Meghan interview

Anti-monarchy group Republic said the interview gave a clearer picture of what the royal family is like

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

Most Read