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TORONTO Federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre fumbled his way through the Jetsgo collapse, said Pamela Sachs, president of Air Canadas flight attendant union.

Minister Lapierre has been touting Open Skies, which is further deregulation of the airline industry, while failing to provide Canadians with a safe and reliable transportation system, says Sachs, president of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

For the past two months hes been speaking about Open Skies, but when the downside of deregulation became obvious with the failure of Jetsgo, he kept quiet, says CUPE National President Paul Moist. Domestic deregulation in 1987 ushered in dozens of bankruptcies, declining service levels, and has left thousands of passengers stranded and many workers jobless.

Open Skies is an agreement that would allow U.S. airlines to operate freely in Canada. The idea is that it will open up competition, which supposedly will benefit consumers.

Sachs says Canadians need a transport minister who has a balanced interest in ensuring the stability of the airline industry plus the safety and well being of Canadians. By the time the ministry delivered an ultimatum to Jetsgo, the airline had racked up 35 infractions over three years. Meanwhile, Lapierre promoted more deregulation through Open Skies.

The minister has shown callous disregard for the passengers and employees that were victims of Jetsgos collapse. He has said that, while he feels sorry for the Jetsgo passengers, the airline industry is a free market and passengers should expect this type of thing to happen.

Jetsgo was supposed to be the answer to opening up competition in the Canadian airline industry, but it only led to price wars and artificially low prices that both Air Canada and WestJet agree the industry couldnt sustain, Sachs said.

Lapierres plans to allow U.S. airlines to operate freely within Canada may have disastrous effects on consumers, Sachs said. Right now, five U.S. air carriers are flying under bankruptcy protection. How can consumers benefit from having more unstable airlines operating here?

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Contacts: Cathy Schlender, Manager, Communications, Air Canada Component of CUPE, (416) 798-3399, ext. 270; Paul Moist, CUPE National President, cell (613) 558-2873; Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer (porte-parole francophone), cell (613) 794-8395