Unifor President Jerry Dias said he had “no idea” why the federal government was taking so long to announce an airline assistance package that the airlines desperately needed, but he said that without one, the entire industry is in danger.
“We are at a crossroads in this discussion,” Dias told 680 NEWS Thursday. “The industry cannot be supported.
Dias said Air Canada is losing about $ 14 million to $ 16 million a day and that those losses are set to increase after agreeing to reimburse passengers whose flights were canceled or postponed during the pandemic.
When it comes to federal aid, Dias says there is no more time to waste.
“The government and industry must find a solution yesterday,” he joked.
Dias says the loan “floor” is $ 7 billion, but notes “it could go higher than that due to the issue of canceled routes (and) consumer repayments.”
“I have no idea what’s taking this long… we expect the deal to be announced shortly, but I’ve been predicting it for some time now.”
RELATED: Air Canada Refunds for Ongoing Canceled or Postponed Flights: Unifor
Dias also points out that what is being negotiated is a loan, not a bailout. He has heard it could be at one percent interest over 10 years, but says negotiations are underway and those numbers could change.
“Right now (the airline industry) is operating at about 15% of its capacity, which is totally unsustainable for the long-term viability of the industry.
“I’m waiting (a loan), but I’ve been waiting for it for a long time,” said the clearly frustrated union boss.
“Porter hasn’t flown a plane for months and months and months,” he added. “I know Sunwing is in big trouble. I know Air Canada is in big trouble.
Dias says he understands why Porter decided to bring his entire fleet to a standstill, and he fears more airlines will follow suit if help doesn’t come soon.
“At the end of the day, it’s cheaper to just immobilize planes and that’s why they (Porter) are doing it.”
On Wednesday, Air Canada announced plans to reimburse passengers for canceled or postponed flights.
When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the airline referred to a February 12, 2021 statement that said discussions with the federal government were underway.
“I think they are reluctant to say anything during the negotiation process,” Dias speculated.
Consumer rights group Air Passenger Rights estimated that as of September 30, approximately 3.9 million air passengers, including those of Air Canada, had been denied reimbursement for flights they did not receive. had not borrowed.