Air Canada flight attendants disappointed at lack of protection from airline

CUPE Press Release | March 19, 2020

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 2 seconds.

Air Canada flight attendants are shocked and disappointed at the company’s refusal to change in-flight procedures to protect crew and passengers from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

An Air Canada Airbus A330 taking off from 24L at YUL during a striking sunset. Photo submitted by Pat Lalande (Instagram user @yvrspotterxcaf) using #skiesmag.
Air Canada told CUPE that in-flight meal and drink service would still proceed unchanged, regardless of how easily COVID-19 can be spread through physical interactions. Pat Lalande Photo

On the morning of March 17, Wesley Lesosky, the president of the Air Canada Component of CUPE, wrote to Air Canada with a list of suggestions to help reduce the risk of infection for crew and passengers. The list included a recommendation to minimize in-flight service in order to reduce physical contact between flight attendants and passengers as much as possible.

That evening, the airline confirmed that in-flight meal and drink service will essentially proceed unchanged, despite concerns from the union that the virus can be easily transmitted during the multiple physical interactions involved. The union had recommended that interactions with passengers should be temporarily restricted to medical or security emergencies.

“We aren’t operating in a business-as-usual environment any more, and Air Canada should stop acting like we are,” said Lesosky. “While our members work through extremely trying circumstances to bring Canadians home safe, it’s disappointing to see the airline ignore the health and safety of its own employees.”

The union was pleased to see the company respond positively to its recommendations to improve the quality and availability of personal protective equipment, sanitizing products, and disinfectants. The union is calling for the airline to implement these commitments as soon as possible.

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