Skip to content

Air Canada grounding multiple Calgary flights, cites pilot shortage

‘Industry-wide shortage of regional pilots is expected to have a prolonged impact’

Air Canada is slashing six major routes out of Calgary this winter, in part due to an industry-wide pilot shortage.

The airline confirmed Wednesday it will no longer offer non-stop flights from Calgary to Ottawa, Halifax, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Cancun, or Frankfurt as of the end of October.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the cancellations are intended to improve the “overall operational stability” of the airline.

“The industry-wide shortage of regional pilots is expected to have a prolonged impact on Air Canada’s regional network,” Fitzpatrick said in an email.

“This has resulted in resource pressures as Air Canada has been required to operate certain routes with mainline aircraft that are normally served by its main regional partner.”

He added the Montreal-based airline is facing pressure due to supply chain challenges that are making it more difficult for the airline to obtain parts and complete airplane maintenance on time.

“This has led to a review of the network schedule to ensure resources are deployed most efficiently and productively against these current, ongoing industry considerations,” Fitzpatrick said.

Air Canada said it remains fully committed to Calgary and the western Canadian market and will offer nearly 10,000 seats weekly from Calgary this winter.

But the move comes as both Air Canada and its main competitor, Calgary-based WestJet, have been battling over turf as the aviation industry struggles to recover from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, WestJet announced a new strategy that would see it concentrate the bulk of its future growth in Western Canada. The airline removed a number of routes from the Ottawa-Toronto-Montreal triangle as a result.

Air Canada has been prioritizing its Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver markets, and has recently eliminated a number of regional routes in Western Canada as well as direct service to some larger western Canadian cities, such as Regina and Saskatoon.

Air Canada said since August, it has reduced its previously planned winter flying network-wide by 4.6 per cent and reduced the amount of its planned winter seat capacity by two per cent.

READ ALSO: Air Canada pilots look to start bargaining early after WestJet pay hike