Jump to content


Donating Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Lakelad

  1. My father served with #407 during this period. He rarely spoke of the war when we were growing up but began to do more so as he entered his twilight years. The family thought his recollections captured an unvarnished sense of the times and convinced him to write about some his more memorable experiences. An excerpt from one of them follows: MISTAKES ! After I became an air navigator and was posted to operat­ions, I promised myself that, if ever we failed to return safely to base, it would not be as a result of a mistake that I made. I rather suspect that all surviving air crew, at some point in their careers, made a similar promise to themselves. In spite of that, we were all obliged to survive serious mistakes, and not necessarily our own. It was those mistakes that made veterans out of rookies. I do not mean ordinary, everyday, garden variety mistakes, but with mistakes that are made during wars. They can kill you, and your companions too. Careless oversights, bad judgments, or lack of pertinent knowledge, in ordinary times, might even escape comment, but in war they can be fatal. No matter how well trained aircrew were in their respective trades, their trade was still a narrow specialty and they could be real dunderheads when called upon to perform a task outside that specialty. If one was fortunate enough to be able to review one's mistakes with hind­sight, they could look like a series of inexcus­able stupidit­ies. The related story covering such a series of mistakes is fairly lengthy and I have appended it as separate pdf to reduce 'scrolling fatigue' for those who may an interest in some of the equipment and operational challenges of that period. Mistakes.pdf
  2. Canada actually exports more refined petroleum product to the US approx 440K barrels per day (bpd) than the US exports to Canada 215K bpd. It reflects the fact that Canada & US is a single market as far as petroleum is concerned and product flows fluctuate as determined by geographical constraints, pipeline capacity, refinery outages and local market conditions among other things. Yes, we could build out refinery capacity to address the 15% of total consumption that we import, it just wouldn't be economical to do so.
  3. . Canada's airports likely to hike passenger fees as need for upgrades rise in the wake of pandemic The need for more space in an emergency was made dramatically clear in August 2005, when an Air France jet slid past the runway at Toronto's Pearson airport, before crashing into a ravine and catching fire Thu Aug 13, 2020 - The National Post Ryan Tumilty OTTAWA – Canada’s airports are facing the bill for long-recommended upgrades just as COVID-19 has decimated their revenues and passengers could end up covering the costs when planes take off again. In early March, before the pandemic was front and centre, the government published new regulations calling for the extension of emergency overshoot areas at major airport runways. The overshoots, called runway end safety areas (RESA), exist at airports around the world and are designed for emergencies when planes run out of room while landing Canada’s standards on this issue have been lower than the rest of the world for years, with the current rules requiring only 60 metres of overshoot area and another 90 metres as a recommendation. The need for more space in an emergency was made dramatically clear in August 2005, when an Air France jet landed at Toronto’s Pearson airport and slid more than 250 metres past the end of the runway, before crashing into a ravine and catching fire. In what was widely viewed as nothing short of a miracle, all of the 309 passengers and crew on board survived, but there were many serious injuries. Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, said they see the need for the increased stopping areas, but the changes are coming at the worst possible time for airports. “We’re not opposing the regulatory requirements. We’re just wondering how we’re going to be able to pay for it,” he said. It's a very bad situation Some Canadian airports meet the higher standard already, but Gooch said when they did a survey of Canadian airports, the total cost was pegged at roughly $360 million, much of it at smaller facilities. He said the upgrades are a major cost, but airports are dealing with bigger problems as passenger volumes and revenues have fallen off a cliff during the pandemic. “It’s a very bad situation. Airports are basically borrowing to get through the crisis. They’re going through their cash reserves.” Most of Canada’s airports operate as not-for-profits and Gooch said they don’t have any extra revenues, so they will have to consider increasing airport improvement fees and other charges passengers pay. “If we don’t get any support from government, airports are gonna have to raise the rates, just to cover the additional debt and the interest payments.” The Ottawa airport has already made a move proposing to increase its airport improvement fee from $23 to $28 effective Oct. 1. Winnipeg airport is also hiking its fee to $38 on Sept. 1, up from $25. The fees are charged to every passenger arriving at the airport. Even with the added fee, Winnipeg expects to see a nearly $30 million loss this year. Gooch said he expects other airports will have to follow if there isn’t some manner of federal support. The government has waived the rent it charges to airport operators, but Gooch said that is based on revenue, which has virtually disappeared this year as most flights have been grounded due to the pandemic. He said it’s like a hotel forced to close most of its rooms and getting to keep the tax on the few ones it can book. Gooch said delaying the runway upgrades isn’t a real option, because it will take four or five years for air travel to return to pre-pandemic levels and the work needs to be done. After the Air France crash, the Transportation Safety Board’s investigation, recommended Canada extend the overshoot area at major airport runways to 300 metres, a recommendation it repeated in several other crashes. But it wasn’t until this year that Transportation Canada finally indicated it would recommend improvements, with a proposal to require the overshoots be at least 150 metres long, half of what was recommended by the TSB. Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s press secretary Livia Belcea said the Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s press secretary Livia Belcea said the government is taking feedback from airports before it moves ahead and will take COVID-19 into account. “Transport Canada will review comments received and policy, while considering the impact of COVID-19 prior to moving forward with final regulations. Transport Canada will remain engaged with impacted airports on the eventual implementation of the new requirements,” she said. Belcea said when the final rules are decided on, airports will have two years to bring their runways up to the new standard. The standard will force some airports that don’t currently meet the rules, to extend the emergency stopping areas, which don’t have to be paved, but do have to be flat and clear of obstacles. They can also shorten runways or put in special arrestor materials that slow out of control planes down. Airports are basically borrowing to get through the crisis Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport may have the biggest challenge in meeting these requirements, because the island airport doesn’t have enough extra land to meet the new rules. Jessica Pellerin, a spokesperson for Ports Toronto, the agency that oversees Billy Bishop said right now they’re focused on ensuring the airport is ready for when the pandemic ends. “Over the past few months, our focus has been on ensuring that Billy Bishop Airport emerges from the pandemic in a strong position,” she said. The airport’s master plan released last year discusses three potential scenarios. It considers an arrestor system, but notes only one company in North America is making the systems. The plan also says using part of the existing runway would limit the type of planes that could use the airport. The third option the airport has identified would be to physically extend the runway by adding more land to the existing island, but the airport notes it would be a major project and couldn’t be completed quickly. Pellerin said nothing has been decided at this point. “We will assess all options available to effectively implement RESA and ensure compliance with the new enhanced safety regulations as part of our unyielding commitment to safety.” .
  4. . The new Aeroplan loyalty program has been revealed, and it’s a complete overhaul Tue Augt 11, 2020 - The Globe and Mail by Barry Choi When Air Canada announced it was launching its own loyalty program, many travellers were worried about a devaluation coming to existing points in the current Aeroplan program, but the changes coming should get you excited to fly again. After a slight delay due to the global pandemic, the new loyalty program has been revealed, and it’s a complete overhaul. Here’s what you can expect from Air Canada’s Aeroplan, which soft launches on Nov. 8 with a full rollout in 2021. Say goodbye to Aeroplan.com While the name Aeroplan isn’t changing, the website will eventually be taken offline. All reservations will ultimately be done on Aircanada.com or through the Air Canada app. This will be convenient for users because they can search for redemptions and see the cash fare simultaneously. Going forward, you’ll earn and redeem Aeroplan points instead of Aeroplan miles. When searching for routes, you'll now be presented with more than 100 options so you can find what's ideal for you, and there will be filters available, such as preferred airline, cost, points required, length, etc., to make searching and selecting easier. Every seat is now available on Air Canada flights Under the old Aeroplan program, there was a limited number of seats available for award redemptions. When using the fixed reward chart, this forced people to choose less than ideal flights and/or times. Now, points can be redeemed for any seat that's available on Air Canada, including business and premium economy. Aeroplan partner airlines will continue to have a limited number of seats available for redemption, but they'll have a fixed price for reward seats regardless of the time of the year or popularity of the route. Dynamic pricing for Air Canada flights While most of the changes with the new Aeroplan are positive, there's one thing that will likely annoy people. When booking a reward flight on Air Canada, dynamic pricing will apply. That means popular routes or dates will cost more points. On the flip side, travelling during off-peak times will cost fewer. To help you plan, Aeroplan has a points prediction tool that will estimate the range of points needed to redeem a flight. Dynamic pricing is something many airline rewards programs have been moving towards, so it's no surprise that this has been introduced. No more carrier surcharges One of the biggest complaints under the old Aeroplan was that Air Canada and many of its partners charged hefty carrier surcharges. For example, if you wanted to redeem your miles for a flight to Germany on Air Canada, you would be hit with more than $900 in fees. Paying for an economy seat ticket was often similar in price, but you wouldn’t have to use your miles.No more carrier surcharges In a surprising move, Air Canada has removed this fee for all carriers (though taxes and third-party fees still apply), but there is a C$39 fee when booking with partner airlines. There’s now no need to find routing with a partner airline that gave you a less than ideal itinerary just to save cash. Although it may cost you more points to redeem a flight, the savings you get from not paying surcharges make it a pretty good trade-off. A new redemption chart Forget what you know about the old Aeroplan flight reward chart – everything has been revamped. There are now four zones: North America, South America, Atlantic (includes Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), and Pacific. Each zone has different distance bands based on miles travelled, so the number of points for a free flight now depends on which zone you’re flying to, how far the distance is in miles, and which carrier you’re using. This new chart creates some sweet spots that can be beneficial for travellers. For example, flying one way to Tokyo from Vancouver or Calgary in business class will cost you as little as 55,000 points. Under the old plan, it would have required 75,000 miles. Alternatively, a return flight to New York from Toronto will now cost you as little as 12,000 points. That’s 3,000 fewer miles than before. Share your points with family and friends One new feature that eliminates a previous pain point is the ability to pool your points with family and friends. You can now essentially combine your points into a single group of up to eight people. You join the group with your points, which can be used immediately. When making redemptions within the group, points are taken out at a ratio that corresponds to how many points you have. Let's say you're in a group of two, and one member has 60 per cent of the points while the other has 40 per cent. If you're redeeming 10,000 points, the split would be 6,000/4,000 between the two of you. Group members would also be able to share preferred redemption pricing as long as one of the members has Elite Status or is a primary Aeroplan credit cardholder. But once you join, you can’t leave for three months. As soon as you’re out, you can’t join another group for six months. Your individually-earned points leave with you. New Aeroplan credit cards coming TD, CIBC and American Express will continue to issue different tiers of co-branded Aeroplan credit cards. Although each issuer will be different, the benefits provided will be similar, so look out for free checked bags, preferred redemption rates, lounge access, priority services and more. These new cards are launching in November, and there's expected to be some generous offers to entice people to sign up at that time. Even more improvements Other things that are coming include points earned on every flight, micro-redemptions starting as low as 1,000 points, improved elite status, and the ability to use points plus cash to make redemptions. The Aeroplan eStore will also see an improvement with more partners, higher earn rates, new hotels available, and more. For the full details of the new Aeroplan, visit http://www.aircanada.com/aeroplan. .
  5. . Is flying safe during COVID-19? Here’s the scant bit of scientific evidence Transport Canada is relying on Wed Aug. 5, 2020 - The Toronto Star by Kenyon Wallace Canada’s medical officers of health have repeatedly stressed the importance of physical distancing to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. But step on an airplane in Canada and suddenly social-distancing rules, not to mention limits on how many people you should be around at a given time, no longer apply. So what’s the basis for Transport Canada’s decision-making? The Star has found that Canada’s air travel regulator is relying on scant peer-reviewed scientific evidence regarding the spread of COVID-19 on airplanes in its decision not to mandate social distancing on commercial flights. When asked for the scientific evidence guiding its recommendations to airlines, Transport Canada initially provided none, saying only that safety measures are “based on the best available science and evidence.” When pressed by the Star for that evidence, the agency provided just one peer-reviewed study looking at an outbreak of COVID-19 that affected 16 passengers on a flight from Singapore to Hangzhou, China, in late January. The study concluded that one passenger may have become infected on the flight. Transport Canada also provided a link to a letter to the editor published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal describing a flight from China to Toronto on Jan. 22 in which no cases of in-flight COVID-19 transmission were found despite the presence of a passenger who was symptomatic on the airplane and later tested positive for the virus. The agency cited just one other report in a document published by the International Air Transport Association, a trade organization representing some 290 airlines around the world, describing a March flight from the United States to Taiwan with 12 symptomatic passengers on board. The report said no secondary cases in the 328 other passengers and crew were detected. Transport Canada’s guidelines to the Canadian aviation industry, created with input from the Public Health Agency of Canada, recommend but do not require airline operators to “optimize social distancing.” “However, in cases where distancing is not possible or practical, other protective measures against COVID-19 are in place as part of the multi-layered approach to support in reducing the risk of COVID-19,” said Transport Canada spokesperson Sau Sau Liu in an email. The measures include mandatory masks, hand-washing, limiting food services and increased use of air filtration systems on aircraft, Liu said. “There are very few things ventilated as well as commercial airplanes,” said Jim Haas, director of product marketing at Boeing. “That is by design.” He says airflow in commercial aircraft is designed to travel vertically from above passengers’ seats down to where walls meet the floor, thereby keeping air in one area from travelling throughout the cabin. The entire volume of cabin air is exchanged every two to three minutes with fresh air — a 50-50 mix of outside air sucked in through the engines and cabin air that has gone through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. “They’re the same type of stuff used in hospitals, isolation wards, operating rooms,” Haas said. “When the air comes in over your head, it’s clean.” Haas also pointed to other design features in aircraft that he says make virus transmission in aircraft difficult. “When you think about air travel, people are sitting in seats, they’re all facing forward, they’re high-back seats, the air flows, there’s not a lot of singing and dancing,” he said, adding that for these reasons Boeing does not see a need to block the middle seat. Canada’s largest airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, both began selling adjacent or middle seats on aircraft July 1 after blocking them shortly after the pandemic began. The airlines say they are taking layered approaches to passenger safety aimed at limiting the chances of any virus transmission. These include “touchless” check-ins, temperature checks and questionnaires before boarding, enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas, electrostatic spraying or fogging of aircraft interiors, mandatory mask wearing for passengers and crew, and changes to on-board service. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has said temperature-taking is “not effective at all.” “Even if you are infected, we know that the likelihood of picking up someone who is symptomatic is sort of, relatively, inefficient,” she said on May 4. Air Canada and WestJet say they are relying on data and evidence from a variety of sources, including researchers, medical experts and the International Air Transport Association. Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick acknowledged there are few comprehensive COVID-19 studies, but said the aviation community is drawing on a range of preliminary reports on the virus and earlier studies of other contagious diseases. “While studies vary in their focus and methodology, there is general agreement that the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other communicable diseases on board an aircraft is exceedingly small,” Fitzpatrick said. He added that the airline has undertaken several medical collaborations to advance biosafety across its business, including with Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto; Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience to explore rapid COVID-19 testing in an aviation environment; and Toronto-based BlueDot, a company that monitors infectious diseases globally. WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell told the Star in an email the decisions the airline makes are “data-driven or evidence-based” and pointed to several publications, including the same Canadian Medical Association Journal report cited by Transport Canada, and a statement by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that said the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 on an aircraft “cannot be excluded but is currently considered to be low for an individual traveller.” She also pointed to a study published after the 2002 SARS outbreak looking at the transmission of infectious diseases during commercial air travel that concluded the environmental system used on planes “seems to restrict the spread of airborne pathogens, and the perceived risk is greater than the actual risk.” That same study also concluded, however, that “commercial airlines are a suitable environment for the spread of pathogens carried by passengers or crew.” Bell said the airline is a “highly safety sensitive organization in one of the most carefully regulated industries in the world.” Since July 21, there have been 14 domestic flights and 23 international flights arriving or leaving Canada carrying passengers with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the federal government. New Democrat MP Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) has been a vocal critic of the Justin Trudeau Liberals for not ordering airlines to follow physical distancing rules. He is calling for a federal relief package to ensure carriers are not filling middle seats for economic reasons. “Is it possible to practise physical distancing on aircraft? … The answer is yes. So the airlines are violating direct concrete, consistent advice being given by public health officials,” Davies told the Star. “They’re effectively subordinating public safety to the economics.” Air Canada and WestJet dispute such assertions, saying passenger safety is of the utmost importance. “Safety and profitability are not opposed but instead mutually reinforcing, as safety is always the customer’s first consideration in choosing an airline and a strong safety record is essential to long-term success,” said Air Canada’s Fitzpatrick. Bell said WestJet has “safely flown more than 415,000 guests on 13,700 flights with no reported cases of transmissions on board our aircraft since March 24, when the pandemic began to ramp up in Canada,” noting that because of a downturn in demand, the company is still facilitating spacing on all aircraft when capacity allows. While the limited amount of peer-reviewed research on the spread of COVID-19 in aircraft seems to suggest a low risk of transmission, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts say the dearth of such research is part of the problem. .
  6. . New NAFTA - the fine print... 'Shock at the doorstep': New NAFTA raises duty-free limits for private couriers, but not Canada Post Consumers can choose to avoid paying the GST by picking a private courier over Canada Post, but many don't have that option Fri Jun 26, 2020 - Financial Post OTTAWA — Canadians who buy online from stores in the United States or Mexico will get a bit of reprieve from taxes and duties next week but only if their packages are delivered by a private courier. If Canada Post is the one tapped to drop the package in the mailbox or on the doorstep, the old rules will still apply, leaving a two-tiered tax system for the same goods. “We are just mystified that the government would be setting consumers up for that surprise,” said Andrea Stairs, president of eBay Canada and chief marketing officer for eBay North America. The change is part of the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico Free Trade Agreement, which comes into effect on Canada Day. Within the trade deal, Canada agreed to lift the very low limit it had applied for duty and tax-free consumer imports, known as the de minimis threshold. It used to be that any goods purchased and imported by mail or courier would be subject to duty and GST if the total value was anything over $20. On July 1, that threshold is rising to $40 before GST gets applied and $150 before customs duties are added, for all packages delivered by couriers such as FedEx or UPS. The changes do not include Canada Post, for which all tax and duties will continue to be applied after $20. It means if consumers have a choice in how their package is shipped, they can choose to avoid paying the GST by picking a private courier. But consumers don’t always have that choice, said Stairs. She also said postal rates are usually the most competitive for shippers, so this change means the modest break on taxes that consumers could expect from the new trade deal might be eliminated, since it costs more to use a private courier. “It’s really unfair to middle-class Canadians and it’s also very unfair to rural Canadians who just don’t have the option in some cases of having courier service to them,” said Stairs. The modest break on taxes that consumers could expect from the new trade deal might be eliminated, since it costs more to use a private courier. Mike Blake/Reuters files She estimates about 80 per cent of the packages delivered across the border from eBay sellers are shipped by the postal services. “I think consumers fully anticipate that the new thresholds that were negotiated in CUSMA were going to apply to all imports from the U.S. and I think when they realize that actually the majority of those are excluded from the modest increases there is going to be some pretty significant shock at the doorstep,” said Stairs. Graham Robins, the president of A&A Customs Brokers in Surrey, B.C., said the changes are causing confusion and concern for customs agents who now have more work to try to sort out whether packages need to go through customs or not. Robins also said shippers will be deciding if it’s more economical to simply avoid the post office. A spokesperson for Canada Post said the Crown corporation will follow the rules and pay the fees set out by the federal government and had no further comment on the changes. Stairs said she met early in 2020 with Procurement Minister Anita Anand, who is responsible for Canada Post, and felt Anand understood the issue, but that ultimately the decision was up to Finance Minister Bill Morneau. A spokesperson for Morneau had not yet responded to questions about the matter by Thursday evening. .
  7. . George Floyd Worked With Officer Charged in His Death The episode began with a report of a $20 counterfeit bill. It ended in a fatal encounter with the police, which the authorities have described in detail for the first time. Fri May 29, 2020 - The New York Times By Matt Furber, Audra D. S. Burch and Frances Robles MINNEAPOLIS — One was a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department who moonlighted as an off-duty security guard. The other provided security at a Salvation Army store, and spent some of his evenings at local clubs, working as a bouncer. In the year before their fatal encounter, George Floyd, 46, and the officer now charged with his death, Derek Chauvin, 44, worked at the same Minneapolis Latin nightclub, both part of the team responsible for keeping rowdy customers under control. Their paths crossed for the last time in the waning light of a Memorial Day evening, outside a corner store known as the best place in town to find menthol cigarettes. Within an hour, Mr. Floyd was dead, his last pleas and gasps captured in a horrifically graphic video. In a move that has since prompted protests in cities across the country, Mr. Chauvin knelt down on Mr. Floyd behind a police vehicle outside the store. For eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to a criminal complaint filed on Friday by the Hennepin County District Attorney, the police officer pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck in silence, staring toward the ground as his captive gasped repeatedly that he could not breathe. Bystanders waved their cellphones, cursed and pleaded for help, and still, for two minutes and 53 seconds after Mr. Floyd had stopped protesting and became unresponsive, the officer continued to kneel. The case has become part of a now-familiar history of police violence in recent years in which African-American men have died in encounters that were shockingly mundane in their origins — Eric Garner, who died after a 2014 arrest in New York for selling cigarettes without tax stamps; Michael Brown, who died in an encounter with police the same year in Ferguson, Mo., after walking in the street instead of using the sidewalk. Mr. Floyd’s case began with a report of a counterfeit $20 bill that a storekeeper said he tried to pass to buy cigarettes. “He died for nothing — something about a fake bill — that was nothing,” said Jason Polk, 53, a city bus driver and one of a number of South Minneapolis residents who have expressed outrage over the case. With Mr. Chauvin in custody and formally charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors must now try to understand what happened in the chaotic moments before Mr. Floyd was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center and pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. Accounts from witnesses, cellphone and surveillance video and charging documents released on Friday tell much of the story of how the “forgery-in-progress” arrest unfolded. Mr. Floyd had been a star football and basketball player in high school, moving to Minneapolis about five years ago. When he returned to Houston for his mother’s funeral two years ago, he told a cousin that Minneapolis had come to feel like home. “He was such a happy guy, he loved to be around people, loved to dance and he loved Minneapolis,” said Jovanni Thunstrom, who owned the Conga Latin Bistro where Mr. Floyd worked security on salsa nights. “He walked in every day with a smile on his face.” It was another club, El Nuevo Rodeo, where both Mr. Floyd and Mr. Chauvin worked. Maya Santamaria, who sold the club in January, said she doubted that the two men interacted. Mr. Floyd worked the occasional weeknight, she said, while Mr. Chauvin worked security on weekends over the past 17 years. Sometimes during the club’s boisterous “urban nights,” she said, when it draws a primarily African-American clientele, Mr. Chauvin was sometimes overly aggressive with customers, sometimes using pepper spray, she said. “I did have words with him on various occasions, when I thought he was not reacting appropriately based on the situation at hand,” she said. “It was like, zero strikes and you’re out.” Mr. Floyd’s younger brother, Rodney Floyd, 36, said he was the center of any room he walked into. “Always smiling, always somebody you could talk to and know that you would not be judged.” The fatal encounter began just before 8 p.m., when Mr. Floyd entered Cup Foods, a community store run by four brothers, and a store clerk claimed that he had paid for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The police got a call from the store at 8:01 p.m. “Um, someone comes our store and give us fake bills and we realize it before he left the store, and we ran back outside, they was sitting on their car,” the caller said, according to a transcript released by the authorities. The store clerk demanded the cigarettes back. “But he doesn’t want to do that, and he’s sitting on his car cause he is awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself,” the clerk said, according to a transcript of the call to police. “He is not acting right.” The dispatcher pressed for a description, and the caller described the man as tall, bald, about 6 feet tall. “Is he white, black, Native, Hispanic, Asian?” “Something like that,” the caller replied. “Which one? White, black, Native, Hispanic, Asian?” “No, he’s a black guy,” the caller said. Not long after, Angel Stately, a regular customer and former employee, arrived at the store looking for menthol cigarettes. The police were already outside. Ms. Stately said the clerk, a teenager, was feeling bad; he had called the police, he told her, only because it was protocol. The clerk held up a folded bill and showed it to her. The bill was an obvious fake, she said. “The ink was still running,” she said. Ms. Stately said she saw an officer approach Mr. Floyd, with his hand at his gun at his hip. The charging documents say that officers found Mr. Floyd in a parked blue car with two passengers. Soon, additional police units arrived and the officers tried to get Mr. Floyd into a police vehicle. But he struggled. “Mr. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers, intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still,” according to the charging document. Even before he was placed on the ground under Mr. Chauvin’s knee, according to the prosecutors’ account, while standing outside the car, Mr. Floyd began saying repeatedly that he could not breathe. Mr. Chauvin tried to place him in the police car with Officer J.A. Kueng’s help. At 8:19, Mr. Chauvin pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car. Mr. Floyd hit the ground, face down, handcuffs still on. Mr. Kueng held Mr. Floyd’s back while Officer Thomas Lane held his legs. Mr. Chauvin lodged his left knee in “the area of Mr. Floyd’s head and neck,” the documents said, and Mr. Floyd continued to protest: “I can’t breathe,” he said repeatedly. He called for his mother. He said, “Please.” One of the officers dismissed his pleas. “You are talking fine,” one officer said, according to the charging documents. At least one officer was worried: Mr. Lane asked if the officers should roll Mr. Floyd over on his side. “No, staying put where we got him,” Mr. Chauvin replied. “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever,” Mr. Lane said. “That’s why we have him on his stomach,” Mr. Chauvin responded. At 8:24 p.m., Mr. Floyd stopped moving. Mr. Kueng checked Mr. Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse. “I couldn’t find one,” he said. At 8:27 p.m., eight minutes and 46 seconds after he had lowered himself onto Mr. Floyd’s neck, Mr. Chauvin finally released his knee. .
  8. (Excerpt from Division IX - Canada Labour Code) Where employer deemed to terminate employment (4) Except where otherwise prescribed by regulation, an employer shall, for the purposes of this Division, be deemed to have terminated the employment of an employee where the employer lays off that employee.
  9. . WestJet seeks exemption to section of Canada Labour Code covering group terminations If successful, termination of more than 50 employees won't require 16 weeks' notice or pay in lieu Thu May 21, 2020 - CBC News Aaron Saltzman WestJet is asking for an exemption to the section of the Canada Labour Code covering group terminations. In a letter to federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, the airline says it finds itself in "unprecedented circumstances with regards to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent decline in air travel prompted by containment measures worldwide." WestJet says abiding by group termination provisions in the Labour Code would be "unduly prejudicial to the interests of the company's employees and to the company, and are seriously detrimental to the operations of the company's industrial establishments." The airline also said "measures are already in place to assist redundant employees which have substantially the same or the same effect" as the measures in the applicable section of the code. Division IX of the Canada Labour Code is applicable if a federally regulated company plans to terminate more than 50 employees during a four-week period. Under those circumstances, certain provisions kick in designed to protect the employees and prevent a flood of people entering the labour market all at once. Instead of the two weeks' notice required for individuals, Division IX states employees who lose their job during a group termination are entitled to 16 weeks' notice or pay in lieu of that notice. "Really, that's designed to try to allow people to get things in order," said Philip Graham, a lawyer specializing in employment law at Koskie Minskie law firm in Toronto. "It also allows the employer and representatives of the employees the opportunity to sit down and try to minimize the effects of the layoff: Is it possible to perhaps shift employees around, to furlough employees, to put them on a shared work schedule, so that they don't actually end up having to be terminated and entering the market as job seekers." With group terminations, an employer is also required to co-operate with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, provide affected employees with a statement of benefits, and establish a joint planning committee. This is the second time in less than a year that WestJet has asked for an exemption from part of the Canada Labour Code. The previous request was not related to the pandemic. 'Very concerning' Last August, WestJet asked for exemptions to rules covering the right of employees to refuse overtime, the requirement they be given 24 hours' notice of a shift change, and the mandatory half-hour break for every five hours of work. "There's no question that this is a very trying time for airlines around the world," said Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE 4070, which represents flight attendants and cabin crew members of WestJet, its regional airline Encore and its discount arm, Swoop. "The union has to be mindful of the operating circumstances, but just to ask for a blind exemption to the Canada Labour Code is certainly something that we view as very concerning," said Rauenbusch. "To us it seems every time the code gets in the way, WestJet files exemptions to it. And the point of the code is to protect employees; it's not to be negated and bypassed every time an employer has a perceived need." Rauenbusch says WestJet is trying to bypass the union, which would normally use the 16-week notice to negotiate further for things such as job retraining or new positions within the company. WestJet laid off about half of its 14,000 workforce in March, and announced last month it would layoff a further 3,000 employees, saying its passenger loads had dropped by more than 95 per cent due to travel restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Since then, the airline has rehired about 6,400 employees with the help of the federal government's wage subsidy program. In an email to CBC News, WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell said the airline has not made any decisions to move ahead with terminations. "An exemption [to the Canada Labour Code] would allow the airline flexibility to act in a timely manner in this rapidly changing and prolonged crisis. This letter is consistent with our respect for government processes and the Labour Code," said Bell. An email to the labour minister's office was not returned prior to publication. .
  10. . Onex posts $1.1-billion loss, writes down WestJet stake Fri May 15, 2020 - The Globe and Mail by Andrew Willis Private equity firm Onex Corp. posted a US$1.1-billion loss in the first quarter as it wrote down the value of WestJet Airlines and other holdings due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Toronto-based Onex booked a US$985-million loss on its investment portfolio and an additional $67-million loss on its wealth management platform, Gluskin Sheff. Onex says the decrease in fair value of its investments ranged from declines of between 1 per cent and 77 per cent. While the company did not break down the value of individual holdings, analysts estimate the value of WestJet has declined by 65 per cent since the buyout firm acquired the airline in December for $3.5-billion. Onex committed $345-million of its own capital to the WestJet acquisition. Prior to the pandemic-inspired market decline in March, Onex raised US$202-million by selling a portion of its stake in European packaging company SIG Combibloc. In mid-April, Onex announced a major acquisition, agreeing to acquire U.K. medical services firm Independent Clinical Services. Analysts estimate the transaction was valued at US$1.4-billion. Onex is currently holding US$1.9-billion in cash, and maintained its dividend of 10 cents per subordinate voting share. In a press release, founder and chief executive Gerry Schwartz said: “The most challenging times bring out the best in people. Both within Onex and across businesses in our private equity portfolio, there were countless examples of employees ensuring where possible we could all work from home seamlessly; where not possible, ensuring employees were safe while serving their customers." .
  11. . 6 Canadian service members killed in helicopter crash to be honoured at CFB Trenton ceremony DND says Canadian Armed Forces members on parade to wear masks, to distance physically Wed May 06, 2020 - CBC News Six Canadian military members killed in last week's helicopter crash off the coast of Greece will be honoured at a repatriation ceremony in Ontario on Wednesday. The ceremony, at CFB Trenton, is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to attend. Family and friends of the service members will have a chance at the ceremony to pay their respects. The Department of National Defence said Canadian Armed Forces members, with the exception of pallbearers, will practise physical distancing at the ceremony to protect the health of those in attendance. "Despite the challenges presented by the current COVID-19 environment and the need to maintain physical distancing, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton is committed to a dignified and respectful repatriation for our fallen aviators and sailors," the department said in an email Tuesday. On Wednesday, April 29, the CH-148 Cyclone crashed in the Ionian Sea while taking part in NATO exercises. Defence officials have said it was returning to HMCS Fredericton at the end of a NATO training mission. The remains of one naval officer, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, were subsequently recovered while the other five service members on board are missing and presumed dead. Cowbrough was a marine systems engineering officer on the HMCS Fredericton and had lived in Dartmouth, N.S., for much of her life. The other five service members are: Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, a pilot originally from New Glasgow, N.S.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, a naval warfare officer originally from Truro, N.S.; Capt. Kevin Hagen, a pilot originally from Nanaimo, B.C.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, an air combat systems officer originally from Trois-Rivières, Que.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, an airborne electronic sensor operator originally from Guelph, Ont. The remains of one other person have been recovered but not yet identified. At the ceremony, members of the Canadian Armed Forces on parade will wear non-medical masks, the department said. Pallbearers and those unable to distance physically will wear gloves. The department said it will provide family members of the six with masks and encourage them to distance physically during the ceremony. As for Canadians who wish to pay their respects, the department is urging them to watch the ceremony on television or online instead of gathering at CFB Trenton. The department said the five members who are missing and presumed dead will be represented by different military headgear, depending on whether they were members of the Royal Canadian Navy or Royal Canadian Air Force. The headgear will be resting on pillows to be carried off the plane, a CC-177 Globemaster, by fellow military members. According to the department, once the CC-177 Globemaster arrives at 8 Wing/CFB Trenton, pallbearers will enter the aircraft, the Quarter Guard will march into its position on the tarmac, families of the six will be escorted to locations on the tarmac and the ceremony will begin. Pallbearers from 8 Wing Trenton will carry Cowbrough's casket first from the CC-177 to a waiting hearse. Her remains will be repatriated. An escort party from HMCS Fredericton will then carry pillows with the headdress of the five other members from the CC-177 in the following order of rank, by seniority: Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald; Capt. Kevin Hagen; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins. As the casket and each pillow is brought to each hearse, respective family members will be brought to the rear of the hearse to pay their respects. The hearse doors will be closed, the Quarter Guard will march off and the ceremony will end. Motorcade to Toronto to follow ceremony Following the ceremony, a motorcade will travel along a section of Highway 401, known as the Highway of Heroes, to Toronto, for a coroner's examination. A portion of Highway 401 is called the Highway of Heroes to mark the road that soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan travelled between CFB Trenton and Toronto in their final journey home. When the bodies of soldiers who died in Afghanistan were repatriated, people would line the overpasses of Highway 401 to pay their respects. "For those who may feel it necessary to have a physical presence at roadside or overpasses along the Highway of Heroes, we ask that you join us in respecting COVID-19 restrictions and practice physical distancing while paying respects," the department says. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Tuesday that he is urging people to watch the ceremony and motorcade on TV or online instead of from Highway 401 overpasses to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. It's still not clear what caused the CH-148 Cyclone to crash, but the helicopter's flight data recorders were found in the debris and are to be analyzed at the National Research Council in Ottawa. Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft was used to bring the families to and from CFB Trenton to reduce risk of travel through various airports across Canada, the department said. .
  12. . Two Medical Systems, Two Pandemic Responses May 02, 2020 - The New York Times By Ian Austen After lamenting in a recent Canada Letter about my inability to find an expert who could offer an informed comparison of how the medical systems in Canada and the United States were responding to the coronavirus pandemic, I soon heard from Prof. Peter Berman. He is particularly well placed for such an assessment, after spending 25 years teaching at Harvard, most recently as a professor of global health systems and economics at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Professor Berman is now based in Vancouver as the director of the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia’s medical school. I’ll begin the comparison with some numbers. Massachusetts, the previous home of Professor Berman, has a population of 6.8 million and British Columbia has slightly over five million residents. But the toll of the pandemic on the two areas has been significantly different. As of Friday afternoon in Massachusetts, there have been more than 62,000 reported cases and 3,562 deaths, or 52 fatalities for every 100,000 people. In B.C., there have been just 2,112 reported cases and 111 deaths or just two victims for every 100,000 residents. Professor Berman cautioned that those numbers reflect a wide variety of factors outside the medical system like the demographic makeup of different cities and regions. But he noted that near his old office at Harvard “there must be thousands of the world’s best hospital beds and there are three top international top hospitals within a couple blocks.” So with resources like that, why is there such a great disparity with British Columbia? Part of the answer, for Professor Berman, can be found in how hospitals are funded and managed by the public health care systems of Canadian provinces. “The kind of system we have in Canada — and I think in British Columbia we have a pretty well-run version of it — allows the public health authorities to essentially commandeer the hospital system. It’s a command and control thing, it’s not a coordination thing,” he said. In the United States, Professor Berman said, hospitals are largely private institutions without any overall control. The effect of having these different systems plays out in many ways. “In British Columbia, the province just said: ‘We need to get ready for this, we need to free up 30 percent of the hospital beds,’” Professor Berman said. “And they instructed the health authorities to do it.” But in Massachusetts, he said, not only was there no one to tell hospitals to clear out beds, the economics of the system work against such steps. “If you have a private hospital where all the beds are paid for by patients and by insurance, when you have an empty bed, you have no revenue,” Professor Berman said. “So there’s a strong incentive for the hospital managers, especially in trying economic times, to be reluctant to cooperate. And then you end up with this kind of panicky atmosphere that has been happening in the U.S. where people are saying: ‘We don’t have enough beds, we don’t have enough this, we don’t have enough that.’” By contrast, Canadian hospitals have fixed funding. The number of full or empty beds has no effect on their budgets. The structure in the United States leads to other problems. Few American hospital administrators got together to do things like moving medical supplies and patients around between their institutions, Professor Berman said. “They have a strong disincentive not to do that and in addition there is no one who can make them do that without a pretty heavy duty expression of police powers of the state, which we haven’t really seen happening,” he said. Professor Berman also noted that while the American system has vast medical and scientific expertise, there’s little national coordination. Instead, responsibility has been fractured among a variety of long established agencies like the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the coronavirus task force established by President Trump. “So you see these different agencies being brought in to weigh in with their opinions without any sense of who’s really the spokesperson,” he said. In Canada however, “at a national level, Theresa Tam is doing that and then at the provincial level, we have people like Bonnie Henry doing that. I think in the U.S., no one’s been allowed to do that.” None of this means that Canada’s approach to the crisis and the structure of its medical system is perfect. Among other things, Professor Berman said that Canada’s health systems, which effectively treat doctors as private contractors, sometimes leads to disconnections between primary health care and the hospital systems. He also said that the country has been slow to push testing for the virus out into communities. But none of that has led to the sort of response he’s seeing back in the United States. “I’m a health economist,” Professor Berman said. “So the argument is always given in the United States that we have a lot of innovation, the system is very efficient and so on. But this is the other side of the argument.” .
  13. . World’s biggest cargo plane to ship Chinese PPE to Quebec Mon Apr 27, 2020 - The Globe and Mail Steven Chase The cargo specialists arranging a massive shipment of personal protective equipment from China for the Quebec government have turned to the world’s biggest aircraft to carry the load. The Soviet-era Antonov AN-225 is scheduled to carry what will be the largest single delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Canada later this week to Montreal’s Mirabel Airport. The most recent flight plan calls for the huge aircraft to land on Thursday night. Much of the freight is expected to be medical gowns that be can be used by health care workers. Quebec’s gear is taking a different route from some other shipments chartered by the federal government and provinces. The plane will pick up the PPE in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin rather than Shanghai. The Tianjin airport is the only one where the AN-225, which weighs more than 285 tonnes and has a wingspan of more than 88 metres, is allowed to land in China. The AN-225 is a one-of-a-kind plane. The world’s largest operational cargo aircraft, it’s owned by Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines and modeled on an aircraft that carried the Soviet/Russian space shuttle Buran. PPE tends to be light but bulky, and the Antonov can carry 1,100 cubic metres, several times what conventional aircraft can accommodate. The Quebec government on Monday declined to comment on this airlift, saying it did not make the logistics decisions. Montreal-based Nolinor Aviation is the company Quebec contracted to ship the PPE. Nolinor in turn contracted with Toronto-based Momentum Solutions, a logistics and air charter provider, which secured the AN-225. Vincent Dufort, sales director for Nolinor, said it’s very challenging to find reliable transport from China these days, and his company contracted with Momentum Solutions because they have worked together in the past and trust them. Stephen Arbib, chief executive officer of Momentum Solutions, said using the massive AN-225 helps reduce the cost of each unit of shipping medical gear to half or less than half of what it might cost to ship by conventional aircraft because it can carry more. Mr. Arbib said using a Ukrainian-flagged aircraft is helpful when shipping out of China because friction between Canada and China can cause difficulty for Canadian aircraft operators. “Unfortunately, with the political climate between Canada and China, being a Canadian operator isn’t always the most accepted operator.” Momentum Solutions played a key role in bringing Canadians home from Wuhan, China, earlier this year, and has worked for the United Nations, other non-governmental organizations and foreign governments. Antonov Airlines has used the AN-225 to deliver PPE to Poland and Germany and France. In China, crushing demand for masks and other protective equipment has created delays and stressed the logistics system. Shanghai Pudong International Airport has become a key centre for dispatching supplies from factories to other countries. Already the world’s third-busiest cargo hub, it has been stretched in ways never before seen. The number of cargo flights is more than double last year’s, including 329 flights on April 17, the highest daily tally in airport history. China late last week tightened restrictions on exports of masks and other PPE, requiring shipments to be subjected to a mandatory customs inspection. The regulations follow highly publicized complaints from some foreign governments and hospitals that they received PPE from China that they considered faulty. The Canadian government reported last week that one million N95-type masks it purchased from China were substandard. .
  14. . Cargojet soars as e-commerce shipments get a lift from COVID-19 lockdowns Thu Apr 23, 2020 - The Globe and Mail Matt Lundy - Economics Reporter As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to squeeze corporate Canada, Cargojet Inc. has emerged as an outlier: Business is strong, the cargo airline is hiring and it is paying $100-a-day raises to staff. Headquartered in Mississauga, Cargojet controls more than 80 per cent of Canada’s priority air cargo market. In contrast to hard-hit passenger airlines, Cargojet is capitalizing on a surge in e-commerce demand as families turn to online shopping while hunkering down at home. Investors have taken notice: Cargojet’s shares have rebounded beyond their prepandemic peak and closed Thursday at a record $129.74 apiece, giving the company a stock market value of about $2-billion. Since hitting a recent bottom on March 18, when equity markets broadly sold off as the novel coronavirus spread in North America and Europe, Cargojet’s stock has rallied 72 per cent. “People who are in the e-commerce business are certainly trending upwards right now,” chief executive Ajay Virmani said. “That’s the intent, because we don’t want people going out to stores” during the pandemic, he added. For years, investors have viewed Cargojet as a unique Canadian play on the rise of e-commerce. With its main hub at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, most of the airline’s revenue is derived from a domestic network of overnight cargo shipments between 14 Canadian cities. Its largest clients include Amazon.com Inc., Canada Post Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. E-commerce was expanding before the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was plenty of evidence to suggest Canadians have been slow to embrace digital shopping. In 2019, e-commerce spending in Canada increased by 32 per cent to $2.6-billion, yet still accounted for less than 5 per cent of total retail sales, according to Statistics Canada data. The Statscan figures are incomplete – for instance, they don’t include common digital transactions such as flight bookings. Even so, analysts say Canada lagged the United States and China. “We have a lot of catching up to do,” Mr. Virmani said. As physical-distancing measures drag on, there are mounting signs the pandemic is accelerating the shift to e-commerce. Statscan recently noted that online retailing was one of the few areas where economic activity is expanding. Cargojet has been a big beneficiary. In a client note last week, Canaccord Genuity analysts said Cargojet had seen a 15 per cent to 20 per cent “spike” in business-to-consumer volumes since mid-March, “driven by increased use of Amazon and other e-commerce traffic.” Mr. Virmani said higher consumer shipments have more than offset declines in business-to-business traffic. "The overall trend is up,” he said. “Cargojet is unique amongst Canadian aerospace names in that the impact of COVID-19 has positive implications that are offsetting the broader economic slowdown,” the Canaccord analysts wrote. “We do not see anything about the current environment that is likely to impact Cargojet’s enviable competitive positioning, virtual monopoly of the overnight air cargo market, and exposure to secular e-commerce trends that will continue to support growth in the years ahead.” Mr. Virmani said total volumes have slowed in recent days, but that could be because households stocked up during the initial weeks of the pandemic, and because online retailers are either struggling to fill orders or placing a higher priority on essential goods. But he said Cargojet has added about 100 employees – including roughly 40 pilots recently laid off by other airlines – to ensure operations run smoothly. And the company is doling out the temporary $100 daily raises to its entire work force. It would be difficult to disrupt Cargojet’s dominance of Canadian air freight, analysts say, given the substantial investments needed to build a competing network, and foreign-ownership restrictions that prevent big global players from invading the market. “Canada isn’t a dense enough market for everyone to efficiently run their own freight operation,” said Chris Murray, an AltaCorp Capital analyst who covers the company. “So what’s happened over time is everyone’s found the best and most efficient way to do it is to actually give their business, or do a contract, with Cargojet.” Mr. Virmani acknowledged the company is not insulated from broader forces weighing on Canada’s economy. “We can only be good as long as there is buying power and people have money to spend,” Mr. Virmani said. “We’re not immune to the recession or depression – whatever you want to call it – but I think we have quite a better chance of survival than a lot of other companies.” .
  15. Cash Crunch Pits Airlines Against Customers in Refund Disputes
  16. . An Air Canada bailout should stick in the craw of Canadian taxpayers . Tue Mar 31, 2020 - The Globe and Mail by Konrad Yakabuski Until the coronavirus crisis stuck, Air Canada had been on an unprecedented roll. In 2019, Canada’s flag carrier posted record revenues, record liquidity and a record stock price. Indeed, since emerging from court protection from its creditors in 2004, the Montreal-based carrier had gone from industry laggard to one of the world’s top performing airlines. “The agility and consistency we displayed in 2019 gives me the confidence that we will successfully execute on the several key opportunities before us,” chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in February as Air Canada reported a year-end profit of $1.48-billion. Now, Air Canada has lined up with the rest of the Canadian air transportation industry in seeking a government bailout. On Monday, Mr. Rovinescu announced the “extremely painful decision” of temporarily laying off more than 15,000 unionized employees and reducing capacity for the second quarter that begins on Wednesday by as much as 90 per cent. What’s more, Air Canada’s pending takeover of Transat AT Inc., which has also laid off most of its work force as the COVID-19 pandemic grounds most international flights, is now in question due to a precipitous decline in global air travel that could last far beyond the current crisis. The coming months promise to be painful for workers. However, no one should shed a tear for Air Canada’s shareholders or top executives. They’ve been richly rewarded in recent years, which will make the thought of their airline now getting bailed out by taxpayers hard to swallow for many Canadians. One reason Air Canada’s stock had outperformed the market had to do with the company’s share repurchase program. Since 2015, Air Canada has spent more than $800-million buying back its own shares. Last year alone, the airline spent $378-million on share buybacks, which had the effect of boosting a company’s stock price by reducing the number of shares in circulation. The company suspended its share buyback program on March 2. On Monday, Air Canada said Mr. Rovinescu and chief financial officer Michael Rousseau have agreed to forgo their salaries for the second quarter, while other top managers will take a pay cut of between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. Last August, however, Mr. Rovinescu pocketed a whopping $52.7-million profit by exercising Air Canada stock options originally issued in 2013. That was on top of a 2018 compensation package of more than $11.5-million. In the United States, Democratic politicians have sought restrictions on share buybacks and executive compensation packages as part of the rescue packages approved under legislation that passed Congress last week. The US$2-trillion bill signed by President Donald Trump provides for tens of billions of dollars in aid to the country’s airline industry, prompting a major push back from left-leaning Democrats and other critics of corporate largesse. “To what extent are taxpayers being asked to bail out wealthy creditors, and to reward companies that, during the years when they made enormous profits, spent their money propping up their own stock prices?” Columbia University law professor Tim Yu wrote last week in a New York Times Op-Ed, arguing that the relief package “amounts to a bailout of private capital and the endorsement of a decade of self-enriching practices.” Whether the sacrifices being made by Air Canada’s top management now will be enough to prevent a similar backlash here may depend on whether Ottawa imposes stiff restrictions on share buybacks and executive compensation in exchange for providing a lifeline to the airline. The goal of the airline bailout, of course, is to ensure Air Canada and Onex Corp.'s WestJet are able to resume normal operations once the current crisis has passed. Without government aid, both airlines could face crippling cash shortages that threaten their very survival. As it stands, global air travel is unlikely to return to precrisis levels for several months after current travel restrictions are lifted. Some of the capacity now being cut by Canada’s airlines may not be fully restored in coming quarters if the economy fails to rebound quickly and unemployment levels remain high for the rest of the year. Air Canada’s takeover of Transat was already expected to lead the combined airline to cut some capacity on seasonal transatlantic and Caribbean routes. But with 2020 shaping up as a washout, the cuts needed for a return to profitability on those routes could approach or exceed Transat’s entire capacity. So why would Air Canada pay $720-million for Transat now? With Transat’s stock trading at less than half of the $18-a-share Air Canada offered last year to buy the struggling carrier, Mr. Rovinescu will face pressure to renegotiate – if not kill – the deal. .
  17. . Class action launched after airlines give vouchers, not refunds for cancelled trips Suit targets major Canadian airlines and travel companies, could affect hundreds of thousands of people Tue Mar 31, 2020 - CBC News Yvonne Colbert A British Columbia woman is launching a class-action lawsuit against several major Canadian airlines and travel companies over their decision to issue credits and vouchers instead of refunds for flights and vacations cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legal action by Janet Donaldson, whose Vancouver-New York round trip on WestJet in April was cancelled, was filed last week in Federal Court against Swoop, WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing. The suit has not been certified. Sébastien Paquette, a Montreal lawyer representing passengers in the suit, said Donaldson paid by credit card and was "disappointed" when she could not get a refund, "which she was allowed to receive by law." "This is a consumer-protection class action seeking to enforce each passenger's rights to a refund for monies paid for their air tickets, when they are not able to travel for reasons outside of the control of the passengers," the statement of claim said. It said companies should not be permitted to keep passengers' money for an indefinite period of time, whether they want to travel in the future or not. The class action applies to an unknown number of passengers, but it's estimated it could affect hundreds of thousands of people. It includes anyone "residing anywhere in the world" who has not received a refund and who bought a ticket with one of the companies before March 11 for a trip scheduled between March 13 and whenever the federal government withdraw's COVID-19 travel advisories. Airlines defend vouchers Airlines have slashed routes during the pandemic and cancelled many flights as the Canadian government urges people to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country. Many passengers have been frustrated at being offered travel vouchers instead of refunds. Paquette said part of the claim is asking that the money paid for the cancelled tickets be placed with the court until the case is settled. "We want to secure the class members their money. At this point it literally is their money, so there's no reason it should be kept in the airlines' accounts," Paquette said. Air Canada and WestJet did not respond to requests for comment before publication and Swoop had no comment. Sunwing said the decision "to suspend all flights was made as a last resort, in response to the exceptional circumstances faced across the industry and around the world." In an email, Air Transat's vice-president of human resources and corporate affairs, Christophe Hennebelle, said the situation "has placed an extraordinary burden on the industry, which puts its very existence into question." He said the company believes "that in such a force majeure situation, way beyond our span of control, we do not have to issue a full refund for travels that have not been completed." He called the 24-month credit voucher "an acceptable solution," saying Italy, Belgium, France and the U.K. have passed legislation to "secure that solution." 'It's the right thing to be done' Paquette said the airlines are forcing people to fly at a later date, when they may not wish to travel and could face a "substantially different price." He points out the companies are saving money on fuel and other operating expenses because of the cancelled flights. The lawsuit is being welcomed by people like Halifax resident Katie Gillis, one of those denied a refund after Sunwing cancelled vacations she, her fiancé and 30 others planned in Mexico for her wedding. Collectively, they spent more than $57,000 on the trip. "I'm super-pleased to hear that," Gillis said of the lawsuit. "It's the right thing to be done." Class-action lawsuits can take years to wind their way through the courts unless the defendants agree to a settlement. Paquette said he can't predict how the companies will respond, but lawyers are preparing in the event it goes to a trial. "We feel that this is wrong and class members should definitely get their money back," he said. Those who were denied a refund during the specified period are automatically qualified as part of the class action and do not have to do anything at this point. Paquette is urging people to keep their documentation, including ticket bookings, charges and emails, since it may be required in the future to prove a claim. None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court. .
  18. . Porter Airlines to get $135 million in funding from federal government after coronavirus grounds flights Porter halted all of its operations on March 20 with plans to keep its planes grounded until June 1 Sat Mar 28, 2020 - Financial Post The federal government will provide Toronto-based Porter Airlines with $135 million in commercial financing during the coronavirus pandemic that has grounded most air traffic and strained the global air travel industry. Porter Airlines told the Financial Post Friday that it arranged commercial financing with Export Development Canada secured by a portion of its fleet of 29 aircraft. The regional carrier, which operates from an island in Toronto Harbour, owns all of its aircraft and only has debt on three, according to an emailed statement. “With this strong balance sheet, we secured a loan similar to other arrangements previously made with EDC,” an airlines spokesperson said. “Many companies are making financially prudent plans in the current environment and this additional capital provides flexibility for our business. Porter has the financial resources to sustain the airline through this public health crisis.” Porter halted all of its operations on March 20 with plans to keep its planes grounded until June 1. It waived change and cancellation fees for customers who had to make last-minute travel arrangements. At the time, chief executive Michael Deluce called the speed of COVID-19 related developments “shocking.” “It is having an unprecedented impact around the globe on businesses, economies and people,” Deluce said in a statement, adding that Porter supports government efforts to restrict the spread of disease. Over the past few weeks, the federal government has met with representatives from Canada’s airline industry, including calls between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the CEOs of Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., the country’s two largest carriers. The industry has called for government support as demand for air travel plummets to near zero thanks to travel restrictions in place to quell the spread of the virus. It’s not yet clear exactly how Ottawa will support the wider industry, but requests for help got louder after the government banned non-essential travel to the United States. Canada’s major carriers have already laid off thousands of employees. WestJet laid off 6,900 employees, Air Canada 5,149 and Transat A.T. 3,600 people. The International Air Transport Association estimates that global airlines will collectively lose more than $252 billion in revenue due to the drastic drop in travel. .
  19. . Sunwing Airlines to halt operations after March 23 amid pandemic Tue Mar 17, 2020 - The Globe and Mail Eric Atkins - Transportation Reporter Holiday carrier Sunwing Airlines is temporarily halting operations, becoming the first Canadian airline to do so amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto-based Sunwing said it is no longer taking passengers south, and will suspend all flights once it has flown its customers back to Canada from resort destinations in Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and Florida. About 470 pilots have been told flights will end after March 23 and were issued layoff notices, said Jerry Dias, head of Unifor, the employees’ union. Sunwing has a fleet of about 40 Boeing 737s. The privately owned company flies domestic routes as well as vacation trips to sun spots in the Caribbean and Europe. Rachel Goldrick, a spokeswoman for Sunwing, said the shutdown is “temporary” and will last until April 10, but “at this time we cannot confirm when commercial southern flight operations will resume. That is why Sunwing was forced to communicate layoffs to our flight and cabin crew members [Monday] evening.” She said the carrier intends to recall the pilots and flight attendants when service resumes. “This unprecedented situation has had a drastic impact on our business during a short space of time,” she said. Sunwing’s parent company, Sunwing Travel Group, bills itself as the largest “vertically integrated” travel company in North America, with $3-billion in yearly revenue from divisions that include three tour operators and more than 7,000 hotel rooms at vacation resorts in the Caribbean. The first of four Sunwing “rescue flights” from Toronto and Montreal departed on Monday to bring 500 Canadians home from Honduras, Aruba and Panama, countries that have announced border closings, she said. On Tuesday, “we expect to bring over 11,000 customers home to Canada and we are committed to doing so until all our customers are safely home,” Ms. Goldrick said. “Customers are returning on their scheduled flights, with any remaining seats being used to accommodate other Sunwing customers wanting to return earlier at no additional cost.” A global airline group on Tuesday said most airlines have only enough cash to survive for three months, and predicted a large number would fail because of the pandemic that has closed some borders and caused a steep plunge in demand for air travel. Mr. Dias and Sunwing added their voices to calls for government aid to prop up the industry. “We will not accept any situation where workers are left to fend for themselves, not at Sunwing, not anywhere," he said. “That’s why we’ve called on all levels of government to confront this unprecedented pandemic with unprecedented action to protect the livelihoods of workers affected by this crisis.” .
  20. . WestJet to suspend international & US flights Airline will focus on rescue flights in partnership with Canada's government Tue Mar 17, 2020 - CBC News by Sarah Rieger WestJet Airlines says it will suspend all international flights — including to the U.S — for 30 days, beginning this Sunday March 22. The final commercially-scheduled, Canada-bound flights taking off from international destinations will leave by 11:59 p.m., local time, that night. After that, the airline said it will operate rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government. As of Monday night, when the announcement was made, tickets were no longer available for sale for the 30-day period after March 22. The Calgary-based airline said the goal is to stop sending Canadians out of the country and focus on bringing them home. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that Canada will ban entry to most non-residents, except U.S. citizens. He's urging Canadians abroad to travel back to Canada as quickly as possible. 24:51 The decision came in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Monday appeal to Canadians overseas to return home. Over the weekend, Global Affairs Canada also urged Canadians abroad to return while they have the chance because countries around the world are imposing ever-tighter travel restrictions. WestJet said it's also lowering prices on remaining seats on flights into Canada, and is reducing its domestic flight schedule by 50 per cent. "While this is a difficult time, we now have the responsibility as a Canadian airline to bring our citizens home," CEO Ed Sims said in the statement. WestJet said Canadians abroad who plan to return home after March 22 should look to see if they can find an earlier return flight. If not, they should visit the Canadian government's website to register for possible repatriation. The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on airlines' business worldwide. The union representing WestJet flight attendants cautioned last week that it could be expecting layoffs of more than 50 per cent of its staff. .
  21. . Transat CEO says Quebec prepared to help airline weather coronavirus crisis The government 'would have to' help airline industry, Jean-Marc Eustache says, referencing taxes incurred by airlines March 12, 2020 - Financial Post by Vanmala Subramaniam The chief executive of Transat AT Inc. says the Quebec government been in touch with his company offering “help” in the face of the coronavirus crisis, which has hit the travel industry hard. “(François) Legault said he is going to help everybody. They are already doing it. They are phoning us even before we told them,” Transat’s Jean-Marc Eustache told analysts on an earnings call Thursday afternoon. “I’m pretty sure they will be there to help because this is a very, very special situation.” Transat, which was founded by Eustache and Legault 30 years ago, has seen its stock price plummet 45 per cent over the last month. Airlines have been particularly hard hit by the virus as governments impose restrictive travel measures, and flight cancellations pile up ahead of the critical March break travel period. On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly imposed a widespread ban on travel between the U.S. and Europe, a move that applied to 26 European countries, but excluded the United Kingdom. “Ottawa has been in touch, everyone has been in touch,” Eustache added, though he did not provide specifics on what kind of assistance might be coming. Transat acknowledged in its first quarter earnings statement that daily bookings had already been severely impacted by the virus, and that it would be “impossible to predict” the effect of COVID-19 on future bookings. That sent its shares cascading downwards, plunging 20 per cent to below the $10 mark in the first hour of Thursday trading, before closing near $11. Eustache emphasized the company would not provide an outlook for the second quarter or for the summer period, because of the level of uncertainty ahead. “I have been in this industry for 42 years. The only thing I can say is we will do what we have to do to survive. If we have to ground half the fleet — it is not something we want to do — we will do it. If we have to lay off people, we don’t want to do it, but we will do it,” he said on the call. He added that the government “would have to” help the airline industry, referencing taxes incurred by airlines. “They will have to do their part too. We will all do it together, step by step.” Transat’s rapidly plummeting stock price could potentially throw a wrench in a $720 million takeover bid by Air Canada, which was formalized last August but will only close pending reviews by the Competition Bureau, Transport Canada and EU authorities. Air Canada agreed to purchase Transat for $18 per share. A previous bid, which was rejected by major Transat shareholders, valued the company at $13 per share. Transat shareholders, including its biggest — Letko, Brosseau & Associates — voted overwhelmingly in favour of the all-cash deal after Air Canada sweetened its bid to $18 per share. Eustache’s own stake in the company is just over one per cent. On the call, the co-founder and CEO dismissed concerns raised by analysts that the deal was on shaky ground given Transat’s stock price, reiterating that it would go through, subject to government approval. “The price of the share doesn’t have anything to do with the deal. The conditions of the market doesn’t have anything to do with the deal. The virus is outside of the deal. Nothing material is happening right now that can change the price of the deal,” Eustache stated, in response to a question on the terms of the transaction. The Competition Bureau is expected to release its report on the transaction on March 23. Eustache cautioned analysts that the report would be negative, given the narrow scope of what the bureau evaluates. “The report will be tough for the transaction because it is about competition. We know it … there is nothing special with that,” he said, adding that transport minister Marc Garneau’s final decision on the deal is the only thing that matters. Air Canada and Transat have not discussed the deal since the outbreak of coronavirus, Eustache said, because they aren’t allowed to communicate until the Competition Bureau’s decision is made. Air Canada’s shares declined by almost 10 per cent on Thursday, extending the coronavirus-related drop to almost 50 per cent in the last month. The stock closed at $24.90. In a recent note, National Bank transportation analyst Cameron Doerkson forecast that Air Canada would suffer a severe drop in 2020 EBITDA, from $3.6 billion to just $2.2 billion as a result of a reduction in travel demand. But, he added, the company had a strong balance sheet and would have “more than sufficient liquidity” to fund the $720 million transaction. Air Canada’s break fee, according to the terms of the deal, would be $40 million. The airline did not respond to the Post’s request for comment on the status of the deal. Transat’s net loss for the first fiscal quarter of 2020 was $20.3 million, above forecasts, while its revenue was $692.8 million. The company’s chief operating officer Annick Guerard said that although the company has seen many cancellations, they have also seen data over the last few days that shows an uptick in the number of last minute bookings largely by younger people. “The younger segment is talking about getting the best deal ever and going on vacation,” she said. .
  22. . Air Canada union says flight crews should be self-isolating, airline disagrees Union says precautions such as gloves and masks aren't always available for flight crew Mon Mar 16, 2020 - CBC News The union that represents a large number of Air Canada's flight and cabin crew says its members should be isolating themselves any time they return to Canada for two weeks just as government authorities suggest everyone else does, but the airline says its employees are exempt from that policy. Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of Canadian Union of Public Employees, told CBC News that the union became aware over the weekend that the airline thinks its staff are "exempt" from the advice of numerous government agencies that anyone arriving to Canada from abroad right now self-isolate themselves in case they have contracted the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness. CBC News has obtained what appears to be a memo from the airline to its staff stating that after having "discussions with government authorities, we can confirm that these conditions do not apply to you as operating, deadheading or commuting cabin crew." Deadheading refers to when Air Canada staff ride on a plane while not working it, in order to get to a new destination where they are required to work a flight. The airline has not responded to a CBC News request about the veracity of the memo's contents. But the union says the policy is "inexplicably dangerous, short-sighted, and ignorant to the health of thousands of flight attendants who continue to work through these extremely trying times." "You're exempted given you're well trained and prepared to protect yourselves, spend less times in the countries being visited and have access to and use protective measures on board, including hand sanitizers, masks and gloves when and as appropriate," the airline's memo to staff reads. The union takes issue with that portion, suggesting that gloves and masks "are not always available for our Air Canada mainline or Air Canada Rouge crews when reporting for duty. This is outrageous and totally unacceptable." "We understand the risks we undertake in continuing to do our jobs," Lesosky said, "but we are not guinea pigs. We will continue to play our pivotal role in bringing Canadians home as this pandemic escalates, but we will not accept the company or the government taking us or our safety for granted any longer." .
  23. . Air Canada was the world's best airline stock two months ago. Now it's the worst Wed Feb 26, 2020 - Bloomberg News Two months ago, it was the world’s hottest airline stock. Now, investors are shunning it. Air Canada lost $3.9 billion (US$3 billion) in market capitalization from its January peak, making it the worst-performing airline on the Bloomberg World Airlines Index this year. Its shares have slumped 28 per cent on deepening fears that the spread of the coronavirus will hinder travel. On Tuesday, the carrier extended the cancellation of all flights between Canada and China to April 10 over concerns about the virus known as Coved-19. It also stopped daily non-stop flights between Toronto and Hong Kong until April 30 due to reduced market demand. New clusters of cases have emerged in Italy, Iran and South Korea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should prepare for significant disruptions to daily life if the coronavirus begins to spread locally in the U.S. Donald Trump’s administration was also considering whether to adopt more restrictions on air travel because of the outbreak, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said. United Airlines Holdings Inc. — the biggest U.S. airline to China before American carriers temporarily suspended flights — withdrew its 2020 profit forecast late Monday, citing uncertainty from the virus. Last year, Air Canada won the global equity crown among airlines after rising 87 per cent with plans accelerate its global presence in leisure travel with the acquisition of tour operator Transat AT. Revenue from outside Canada grew to 64 per cent of total sales last year from 59 per cent in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About one-fifth of the airline’s capacity is on Pacific routes. In its fourth quarter results last week, Air Canada reported earnings per share that missed the lowest analyst estimate. The airline’s outlook for the year saw first quarter Ebitda come in about C$200 million lower from the prior year, assuming its mainland China and Hong Kong services will fully recover by the third quarter and that the Boeing 737 Max aircraft will gradually return to services in that period. Air Canada still has a positive longer-term outlook despite facing near-term pressure from coronavirus risk, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce analyst Kevin Chiang wrote in a report published Tuesday. He sees the recent sell-off as “further buying opportunity” for investors. The stock has 14 buy recommendations, two hold ratings and none of the analysts covering the company believes investors should sell the shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. .
  24. . Kobe Bryant's widow sues helicopter company after fatal crash Wrongful death lawsuit says pilot, who was among 9 killed, should have aborted flight Mon Feb 24, 2020 - Associated Press Vanessa Bryant has sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in fog and killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and her 13-year-old daughter Gianna last month. The wrongful death lawsuit filed in Los Angeles says the pilot was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions on Jan. 26 and should have aborted the flight. Pilot Ara Zobayan was among the nine people killed in the crash. The lawsuit names Island Express Helicopters Inc. and also targets Zobayan's legal representative, listed only as "Doe 1" until a name can be determined. Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit asserts that Zobayan was negligent in eight different ways, including failing to properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn't cleared for and failing to control the helicopter. The lawsuit was filed as a public memorial service for Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and all the victims, including Zobayan, was being held at the arena where Bryant played most of his career. Calls to Island Express seeking comment were not answered, and its voice mail was full. The company issued a statement Jan. 30 on its website saying the shock of the crash had prompted it to suspend service until it was appropriate for staff and customers. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash into a hillside in Calabasas, on the outskirts of Los Angeles County. .
  • Create New...