ALPA Pilots, Air Transat Still at Odds over New Contract

Pilots Aim to Avoid Possible Strike's Impact on March Vacation Break Service

MONTREAL, Feb. 19, 2016 /CNW/ - Air Transat pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l (ALPA), announced today that they still have not reached any agreement with Air Transat A. T. on a new contract. Just days before the height of Canada's spring break travel season, union leaders and the airline have yet to come to terms after more than a year of direct negotiations and federal conciliation.

"After reviewing the latest global proposal presented by the company, our local union leadership and negotiators have unanimously refused sending it out to our membership for ratification," said Capt. Patrice Roy, chairman of ALPA's Air Transat Master Executive Council. "Contrary to what we'd expected, this proposal does not reflect the company's purported interest in bringing pilot wages into line with our peers."

Although no agreement has been reached, the union thanked the Ministry of Labour for its assistance. The Ministry coordinated a federally mandated conciliation period followed by a mediation after distance between the parties on many of the demands led the pilots to seek intervention. However, on February 1, strained discussions between the company and the union led the pilots to an overwhelming show of unity, with 97 percent voting in support of a strike if the two parties proved to be unable to reach a fair and equitable contract.

"It is with our help that Air Transat has remained profitable through the tough times the company faced," said Capt. Roy. "It's time for management to now invest in pilots the same way they've invested in other Air Transat employees and executives."

The conciliation period ended on Sunday, February 7, but was extended when the mediator to the file summoned the parties for a meeting from February 15 to 18. Unfortunately, after a week in mediation, substantial issues remain open, particularly in the areas of working conditions and compensation, according to Capt. Roy. The current collective agreement expired on April 30, 2015. Since then, the pilots have continued to work under a contract that has seen no adjustments to allowances to pension or benefits, and the pilots' concessionary pay scales have fallen well below the rate of inflation.

Roy says the pilots are still open to negotiating and hope to avoid a strike. However, a mandated 21-day "cooling-off" period will end at 12:01 a.m. on February 29, at which point both parties will gain the right to strike or lockout. ALPA plans to keep the public informed of any developments toward reaching a contract up until the strike deadline.

Pilots at Air Transat joined ALPA in 1999. The group's 524 members operate the fleet's A310-300s and A330-200s and -300s, plus B-737-700s and -800s from bases in Montreal, P.Q.; Toronto, Ont.; and Vancouver, B.C.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 30 U.S. and Canadian airlines, including more than 2,600 Canadian flightcrew members who fly for Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, Canadian North, First Air, Jazz Aviation, Kelowna Flightcraft, and Wasaya.

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SOURCE Air Line Pilots Association, Intl

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