Evidence of meeting #29 for Health in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Kevin Brosseau  Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Department of Transport
Lawrence Hanson  Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Department of Transport
Wendy Nixon  Director General, Aviation Security, Department of Transport
Nicholas Robinson  Director General, Civil Aviation, Department of Transport
Ferio Pugliese  Senior Vice-President, Air Canada Express and Government Relations, Air Canada
Jim Chung  Chief Medical Officer, Air Canada
Howard Liebman  Senior Director, Government and Community Affairs, Air Transat
Jared Mikoch-Gerke  Manager, Aviation Security, WestJet Airlines Ltd.
Dave Bourdages  Vice-President, In-Flight Service and Customer Experience, Air Transat

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

For Air Canada and WestJet, I think yours are the only two airlines for which this question is appropriate. Has your airline seen an increase in air cargo traffic throughout the current pandemic? If so, I'm curious as to whether that has helped to compensate for the decline in passenger revenues. If so, to what degree?

2:55 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Air Canada Express and Government Relations, Air Canada

Ferio Pugliese

I will start. We've done a significant amount of work in the area of cargo. We've retrofitted a number of our 777 extended-range aircraft. We've taken out all the seats and retrofitted the aircraft to carry cargo. We've done that with a few of our Airbus products as well.

It doesn't offset the revenue anywhere near what commercial passenger traffic would be, just because of the sheer volumes, but it certainly has helped in this period of time to allow us to get essential goods around the globe. We started that work back in the latter part of March and continue it to date.

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you.

Mr. Mikoch-Gerke, does WestJet have expanded cargo? Do you do cargo?

2:55 p.m.

Manager, Aviation Security, WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Jared Mikoch-Gerke

We do cargo, and we have expanded our capacity to the extent that we're able to. We have not reconfigured our aircraft. We've done some increased services of critical goods such as blood plasma. We've also picked up some additional work to help support Canada Post. We've done a couple of all-cargo charters transporting PPE between Dublin and Atlanta.

That said, even though we have seen a slight increase in our cargo traffic in what we've done, it does not supplement for the increased loss in passenger demand.

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Okay.

2:55 p.m.

Senior Director, Government and Community Affairs, Air Transat

Howard Liebman

Mr. Chair, if I may, I'll answer for Air Transat just very briefly on the cargo question.

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Sure.

2:55 p.m.

Senior Director, Government and Community Affairs, Air Transat

Howard Liebman

I'm pleased to say that as part of our restart plan, we have converted two wide-body Airbus 330 aircraft to freighters, and we're in the process of reaching out to different partners and stakeholders. Just as we repatriated Canadians home at the end of our flying, once we get back in the air, our intention will be to help out in offering lifts to the provinces and the government to bring PPE in from China and other markets.

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you, Mr. Liebman. I didn't mean to ignore you. I just presumed, maybe incorrectly—

2:55 p.m.

Senior Director, Government and Community Affairs, Air Transat

Howard Liebman

That we weren't flying. Absolutely.

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

—that you didn't do cargo.

My last question would be for WestJet and Air Canada.

I know that, on April 27, WestJet asked for a federal exemption from the federal labour minister to eliminate the requirement of 16 weeks' notice for a mass layoff of more than 50 workers. I'm curious to know if you received that exemption from the federal government. Air Canada, it's the same for you. I would like to know if you applied for an exemption and, if you did, what the status of that is.

3 p.m.

Manager, Aviation Security, WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Jared Mikoch-Gerke

We revoked our application for that exemption.

3 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Okay.

Air Canada?

3 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Air Canada Express and Government Relations, Air Canada

Ferio Pugliese

Yes, we have made that application, and we have not received a response.

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ron McKinnon

Thank you, Mr. Davies.

3 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you.

June 22nd, 2020 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ron McKinnon

That wraps up our questioning on our second panel today.

I'd like to thank the members, as always, for their very tough questions. They were good questions.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for giving us their time, for sharing with us their context and challenges, and for all the great information they've provided.

I'd like to acknowledge particularly the translators. This is a very challenging environment for translators. We have all these different end points where we all have different audio situations and different networking, and it's extremely challenging for the translators. I would certainly like to thank them for helping us bridge the gap between the two languages and for all the work they do. It's very much appreciated.

Thank you, everybody.

The meeting is now adjourned.