The union representing 9,500 flight attendants at Air Canada says the company’s quarterly profit of $838 million shows it is more than capable of giving its flight attendants a raise to their poverty starting wages. It also shows the company is more than capable of ending its reliance on – and abuse of – unpaid work by flight attendants.

“The great news is our customers are back, and the planes are full. The bad news is the workers who keep this airline flying are getting crushed by inflation, while the airline still depends on hours of our free labour every month to keep the airline operating,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“Our members are highly-trained safety professionals, but our starting wages are so low that our members working fulltime still qualify for and depend on federal income supplements like the Canada Workers Benefit,” said Lesosky, noting the starting salary for a flight attendant at Air Canada Rouge is $26,487 in the first year.

Meanwhile, the company is not paying flight attendants for hours of critical work they perform every day, and the hours add up. A survey conducted by CUPE last winter found that the average flight attendant in Canada works unpaid for 35 hours every month because airlines like Air Canada only pay flight attendants while the plane is in motion.

“This means duties critical to safety and passenger well-being like assisting passengers during boarding and deplaning as well as pre-flight safety checks are not paid,” said Lesosky. “These huge profit margins reported are built on the backs of the airline not paying our members a fair wage – simple as that.”