Air Canada pilots see progress with mediator in fight for historic pay gains

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 11:51 AM

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL (Reuters) – Air Canada pilots are seeing progress in contract talks after a private independent mediator was hired to bridge gaps with the country’s largest carrier over pay and quality of life demands, a union representative said on Thursday.

Air Canada’s aviators, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), are pressing for historic gains to narrow a wage gap with higher-paid U.S. counterparts who secured record contracts in 2023 amid strong travel demand.

“We found that using this professional mediator in this private mediation agreement is starting to get the ball rolling,” said Charlene Hudy, who heads the local union representing Air Canada pilots.

Air Canada was not immediately available for comment.

Hudy also told Reuters ahead of the carrier’s earnings on Friday that Air Canada pilots are not currently planning to hold a vote to secure a strike authorization.

“Right now, we’re committed to negotiating at the table,” Hudy said. “If we get to that point where there is an actual impasse at the table, then we would look at exercising our rights.”

About 500 Air Canada pilots are considering going to the United States “if the contract isn’t what they expect,” Hudy said, citing internal union survey data. Air Canada has about 4,500 pilots.

While flying in the United States involves a costly and long-term immigration process for Canadians, Reuters reported in September that more Canadian pilots are trying.

Air Canada’s pilots started bargaining in the summer, after ending a decade-long contract framework.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Nick Zieminski)