CUPE defends public safety, opposes reducing flight attendant numbersCUPE was at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport on June 6, calling for action by the federal government to make air transportation more accessible, more frequent, and more affordable for people in northern, rural and remote communities across Canada.

“Access to air transportation in northern, rural, and remote areas is not a luxury,” said Sylvain Schetagne, Senior Research Officer from CUPE. “It is essential for economic development in all parts of Canada, for the tourism industry, as well as the health of many people living in Canada forced to travel south or to larger communities to get specialized health care.”

Schetagne told the committee that decades of market-oriented policy geared towards deregulation of the airline industry has failed communities and airline workers alike.

“Airlines are businesses. They are going to fly where the money is, and they will do all they can to maximize profits, including cutting costs and services. The race to the bottom of low and extra-low fare carriers had major impacts on services in northern, rural, and remote areas, as well as on the working conditions in airlines.”

Now, said, Schetagne, is the moment for a “de-marketization”, and a move toward making air transportation work for smaller communities in Canada.

CUPE is calling on the federal government to take the following steps:

  • Implement mandatory price-controlled services to remote areas.
  • Maintain and expand public and/or not-for-profit ownership of airports and airlines
  • Subsidize airports to reduce cost to passengers, if needed.
  • Subsidize travelers using not-for-profit and/or publicly-owned airlines servicing remote areas, to offset the high cost of traveling to remote areas.

CUPE represents 18,500 flight attendants at ten different airlines across Canada.