Air Canada Customers Highly Satisfied with Bilingual Service Delivery

MONTREAL, June 6, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Air Canada customers are highly satisfied with the airline's ability to deliver service in their choice of English or French overall according to a survey of more than 5,300 of its customers conducted earlier this year by Ipsos Reid.

Ninety-four per cent of Air Canada customers said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied overall with Air Canada's ability to deliver service in their official language of choice, an improvement of three percentage points from the previous year. In addition, the majority of both francophones and anglophones said they believed Air Canada has improved its bilingual service delivery in the past year, with close to fully a quarter of them recognizing that bilingual service improved significantly. Air Canada is the only Canadian airline subject to the federal Official Languages Act.

"Air Canada is Canada's largest private sector corporation offering bilingual services across Canada and globally," said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Air Canada's Vice President, Human Resources and Co-Champion of Official Languages. "As a company that promotes diversity and is a proud standard-bearer of our Canadian heritage, we value our role in promoting bilingualism in Canada. We are proud of our commitment to serve customers in the official language of their choice and are encouraged that the majority of our customers are telling us that we are continuously improving our bilingual service offering. Both this and the steadily decreasing proportion of complaints are the best tangible evidence that our significant efforts and investments are yielding very positive results. We will continue to do so with the interest of our customers in mind and with our total commitment and conviction that bilingualism is right for airline passengers in Canada."

When benchmarked against other Canadian airlines, Air Canada provides a significantly and consistently higher level of bilingualism in terms of quality and availability, according to a 2015 study conducted by KPMG.  When compared against similar flights covering similar routes and destinations, Air Canada was ranked "High level of bilingualism" measured through standard and spontaneous messages, both in flight and at the gate, compared to other Canadian carriers, which were rated "Average level of bilingualism" using the same criteria.

Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline serving more than 200 airports on six continents. Canada's flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2015 served more than 41 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 64 airports in Canada, 55 in the United States and 87 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world's most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,330 airports in 192 countries. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. For more information, please visit: www.aircanada.com, follow @AirCanada on Twitter and join Air Canada on Facebook.

Background Information on Air Canada's linguistic initiatives:

When recruiting new employees who will interact with the public, Air Canada focuses on hiring bilingual candidates. Through considerable efforts in this regard, we have succeeded in recruiting more than 9,500 flight attendants and airport agents over the past 15 years, close to 60 per cent of whom are bilingual. Our regional airline partners have also prioritized the recruitment of bilingual candidates and since 2000 Jazz Aviation has tripled its proportion of bilingual flight attendants to approximately 76 per cent. This is despite the challenge of hiring qualified personnel outside of Quebec, the National Capital Region and Moncton. Outside of these three regions, the challenge is the lack of bilingual candidates to fill vacated positions – despite the fact that we contact Francophone organizations and advertise jobs in newspapers with a Francophone minority readership.

The last government census in fact reported the declining rate of bilingual people outside of Quebec which poses a challenge, not only for Air Canada, but for all organizations, including the federal government, seeking to employ bilingual personnel one for which we, a private sector airline, have very limited ability to address. Yet through diligent efforts working with the French speaking community outside Quebec our overall bilingual representation at the nine largest Canadian airports staffed by Air Canada employees increased from 27 per cent in 2010 to 36 per cent in 2015.

Key to these successes are numerous initiatives that Air Canada has undertaken to ensure employees are fully aware of and dedicated to delivering on Air Canada's official languages and customer service objectives. Highlights of these initiatives include:

  • We invest millions of dollars every year in training, offering new employees awareness sessions and promoting our language training programs in order to raise employees' awareness of our bilingual service and active offer.
  • In an effort to standardize its bilingual service in Canada and in some foreign cities, Air Canada implements numerous automated systems that offer the same standard of quality services in both official languages; for example, airport self-service kiosks, used by clients for numerous transactions, the mobile app and the website. We keep up with evolving technology to find new ways to improve the consistency of service delivery.
  • To increase our results in a very competitive market (particularly for bilingual candidates outside of Quebec), we have expanded our presence in Francophone communities across Canada by participating in career fairs organized by Francophone centres and in other events (e.g. the ACFA, Rendez-vous de la Francophonie, Gala de la Francophonie albertaine, and Festival d'été francophone de Vancouver). We have already been observing results, noting an improvement in some regions, such as Alberta, for example.
  • We have for many years had a language evaluation system to help monitor the language skills of new hires and employees based on established corporate standards.
  • Every two years, we re-evaluate employees to be sure that they are maintaining their language skills. Should employees cease to qualify, we offer them a training plan to help rebuild their language skills.
  • In addition to the vast range of courses we already offer (e.g., skills maintenance, beginners, announcements and individualized coaching), we have developed online training modules that are much more flexible for employees who work various shifts.
  • A French language support telephone line is available to all agents across the world.
  • Our Air Canada Express partners, like Jazz Aviation and Sky Regional, hire mainly bilingual employees and offer language training to employees who are not fully bilingual.
  • A new Official Languages Action Plan was published first quarter of 2016 and is available online at aircanada.com: http://www.aircanada.com/en/about/language/

For over the past 10 years, the number of complaints received by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has dropped, demonstrating that our efforts are succeeding. Whereas passenger numbers continue to rise, complaint numbers are falling despite the complexity of operations and scale associated with serving an additional 10 million customers over the past five years:

  • 2001 saw 143 complaints for about 22 million passengers served;
  • 2009 saw 51 complaints for 31 million passengers; 
  • 2013 saw 51 complaints for 35 million passengers;
  • 2014 saw 49 complaints for over 38 million passengers;
  • 2015 saw 52 complaints for over 41 million passengers;

Every customer has about six interactions with Air Canada employees, which translates to 52 complaints for over 246 million customer-employee exchanges (less than three millionths of one per cent).

 

SOURCE Air Canada

For further information: Isabelle Arthur (Montréal), Isabelle.arthur@aircanada.ca, 514 422-5788; Peter Fitzpatrick (Toronto), peter.fitzpatrick@aircanada.ca, 416 263-5576; Angela Mah (Vancouver), angela.mah@aircanada.ca, 604 270-5741; Internet: aircanada.com

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