Air Canada has announced plans to cut routes from Calgary for the upcoming winter season to balance its broader operation.
The airline cites the industry-wide pilot shortage as a critical reason for the routes being cut. Ultimately, while Air Canada is the latest airline to announce slashes in routes to better aid the remainder of the network, they aren’t the first to cite the ongoing shortage of pilots as the reason for poor performance or network cuts.
Air Canada says that Calgary to Halifax, Ottawa, Los Angeles, Cancun, Honolulu or Frankfurt will be removed by the end of October—a substantial axing in services highlights the picture of the airline but reflects a broader problem.
Despite the announcement of services ceasing from Calgary, this doesn’t change Air Canada’s stance on the city as a critical location for the airline. The ongoing difficulties to continue offering a robust product to customers means cuts must occur.
The effects are significantly impacting the mainline because of regional operations. A spokesperson at Air Canada highlighted that the shortage of regional pilots means their network is hampered considerably. However, it also means that there are further strains and pressures on the resources at the mainline operation, from aircraft to staff.
During the height of the pandemic, airlines were forced to cut their employee base significantly, and the biggest casualty was experienced workers, including pilots. As travel demand has rebounded quicker than most expected, airlines have been left in a position where they don’t have enough employees to cover the roles available.
When considering the safety-critical roles in the industry, training someone to fill a part is costly and a long process. Those looking to become a pilot spend hundreds of thousands, if not more and make substantial sacrifices across a long period stretching, at times, a decade. It, therefore, isn’t an easy fix or career.
However, Canada’s flag carrier faces other struggles seen widely within the industry, primarily related to obtaining parts and seeing maintenance occur when necessary. The ongoing supply chain struggles mean that carriers globally struggle to keep up and ensure their aircraft are on time and fit to fly, potentially resulting in groundings in the worst-case scenario.