Thank you so much.
My name is Julian Roberts. I'm with Pascan Aviation.
We're a regional airline operating on 703, 704 and 705 air operator certificates. We serve 11 regions in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario, moving 7,000 passengers per month on approximately 40 flights per day. We currently employ 200 aviation professionals.
We've been invited here today to discuss the labour shortage in the aviation sector. We're a regional carrier based in Montreal, and our employees are constantly solicited by mainline companies such as Air Canada, Jazz, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat. This is not new for us, as these companies require experienced personnel and usually come to companies like ours for that experience.
In the past years, we have experienced a 50% turnover in flight crews alone. Until recently, we usually had a nice stockpile of resumés of ambitious young women and men wanting to join our company. Since the pandemic, we've noticed a steady decrease in qualified professionals in our sector. We have problems recruiting specialized workers, such as flight dispatchers, aircraft maintenance engineers and ground service personnel, but our biggest challenge remains the pilot shortage.
There are numerous reports that exist—I’m sure you have all seen them—on current and future shortfalls of pilots in Canada. The data is not good, especially for smaller, regional carriers like ours. The pilot shortage is no surprise, nor is it a new issue. In 2019, we were already feeling the impact, but the pandemic alleviated the problem for us, temporarily anyway.
Today, we are in a perpetual recruiting mode for all levels of personnel, especially for qualified pilots. Unfortunately, we see very few applying. We have increased our salaries and conditions significantly. We don’t see better retention or attraction of these qualified workers because there just aren’t many out there.
When the new flight and duty regulations came into effect in 2020 for the 705 operators, the larger companies started to stockpile pilots, putting on additional strain. As for Pascan, we ended up requiring 30% more pilots in our 705 operations to do exactly what we were doing the previous year.
On December 12, the flight and duty regulations will come into effect for the 703 and 704 operators, once again impacting the number of pilots required. Unfortunately, we had to make the decision to cease our 703 operations earlier this year. In early 2023, we will also suspend our 704 operations, greatly impacting the regions we serve, as the required number of pilots will be too high and our operations will no longer be viable.
The effects on regional airlines will eventually make their way to the mainline carriers as well. New pilots coming on to the market will have fewer options to build hours and experience in the smaller 703 and 704 operations. Understand that I'm focusing a lot on the pilot shortage today, but without the pilots to fly my planes, I won't require anyone to dispatch them or any mechanics to fix them.
Where has everybody gone? As I stated earlier, this shortage isn't new; it has just been amplified. A lot of it is due to the pandemic. A lot of early retirement packages were given out to the pilots at Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat, and some people just decided to start different careers due to the instability in the industry. The pandemic greatly impacted the training of new pilots for almost two years. The cost to become a pilot is astronomical, and as interest rates increase, this will only be a further deterrent.
There isn't much awareness out there either for young people that this is an incredible industry to work in. Regulation changes have also made a great impact on the pilot levels.
As we're already in the middle of this shortage, there isn't much that can be done in the short term to solve this issue. Unfortunately, it will quickly get worse as bigger airlines ramp up and pilots start to leave for other countries, like the U.S.A. under the EB-2 program, offering unconditional green cards for pilots and their families, huge salaries, and sign-on bonuses.
For us, regional aviation is at risk. We need help, and we need help quickly.