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Just when Canadians thought air travel was getting safer in the post-9/11 world, the federal government is working on changes that could put passengers lives at risk.

Transport Canada is quietly implementing a policy that would dramatically reduce the number of flight attendants on Canadian aircraft a policy that was just revealed in this mornings Globe and Mail.

For decades, safety tests have confirmed that flight attendants play a vital role in emergencies, says Judy Darcy, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Now, the Canadian government is ignoring all those safety tests and caving in to airlines who want to make more money. I think its outrageous that the lives of passengers and crews are being compromised because of the bottom line.

Since 1971, the number of flight attendants has been federally regulated. Currently, there must be one flight attendant for every 40 passengers on all aircraft with over 50 seats. But Transport Canada is now changing the rules and giving airlines the option of allowing one flight attendant for every 50 seats, even though it admits in a report that the 1 in 40 rule is still the best option. On large aircraft, the rule change could mean up to two fewer flight attendants.

Flight attendants are responsible for passenger safety, and theyre trained to get passengers out of a dangerous situation as fast as possible, says Darcy. Incident after incident has shown that more flight attendants improves everyones chances of escaping in the event of an emergency. Since fire can burn through an aircrafts aluminum skin in just 30 seconds, Darcy says every moment counts and thats why trained professionals are extremely valuable, especially to elderly passengers, pregnant women and people in wheelchairs.

Darcy says the Transport Canada change hasnt been implemented yet, and flight attendants are mobilizing against it. CUPE represents 10,000 flight attendants at five different airlines, including Air Canada.


For more information:
Kaj Hasselriis, CUPE Communications, 613-237-1590 ext. 268 (w), 613-798-6925 (c)