Crisis in Air transport and Aerospace – The federal government must not underestimate what is happening
Montreal, September 30th, 2020- Air transport and Aerospace are among the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Canada, tens of thousands of jobs and the survival of many businesses are at stake. The crisis that is simultaneously hitting these two sectors deserves the attention of a parliamentary committee
“A perfect storm is hitting both industries,” says David Chartrand, Quebec coordinator of the Machinists’ Union. For several months now, we have been intervening in the public space to call for federal intervention and nothing is moving. If the Trudeau government is still not convinced of what it should do, give a parliamentary committee a mandate to look into it and invite us to testify. »
Two sectors hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
The International Air Transport Association reports a 55% drop in international passenger transport in 2020. Montreal Airports expects passenger volume to decline by 71% compared to 2019. For the first six months of 2020, Toronto Pearson Airport recorded a 58% decrease from last year.
In addition to being economically important, air transportation is essential to serving certain regions of Canada. By March 2020, the sector accounted for 241,000 direct jobs in the country. Limited in their operations, airlines are in a difficult situation and are increasing layoffs.
“If the situation doesn’t allow airlines to fly, they need to be given the means to survive,” says Chartrand. Workers on temporary layoffs, are not on a shelf waiting to be called, they have families to feed. The federal government has to act, the problem will not be resolved on its own. »
For the aerospace industry, an AIAC survey released last June found that more than 95% of its members are operating at a fraction of their full capacity or have shut down altogether. More than half (60%) laid off workers and 76% plan to do so over the next six months. Overall, the AIAC members expect sales to decline by 40% in 2020.
” As the two sectors are linked, the paralysis of air transport has significant impacts on aerospace” says the spokesperson of the Machinists’ Union. The current situation is putting enormous pressure on the Canadian aerospace sector. Not only are carriers not scrambling to place orders, but they are in no hurry to take possession of existing orders and it could become dangerous if they defer orders. The worst is to be expected in the coming months if the Trudeau government is not proactive. »
Elsewhere in the world, many countries have already made considerable efforts to support air transport and aerospace.
“We need an emergency plan to get through the crisis and plan for the after-COVID-19. Industry stakeholders need to be able to discuss this with federal elected officials in order for this plan to be effective. If we do nothing, what we lose will go elsewhere and not come back,” concludes David Chartrand.
The Quebec government is already in action
Aware that aerospace is a strategic economic sector, the Quebec government announced last May that it would update Quebec’s aerospace strategy and that industry players would be consulted. Representatives of the Machinists’ Union will participate in the consultations.
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Association Internationale des Machinistes et des travailleurs de l’Aérospatiale