Air Canada is reducing summer flights as the industry faces “unprecedented strains” on travel operations

An Air Canada plane at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on May 16.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Air Canada, AC-T, cites “unprecedented strains” on the airline industry from resurgent travel and says it is canceling 154 flights a day, or 15 percent of its schedule, in July and August.

“Unfortunately, things are not business as usual in our industry around the world and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” Chief Executive Michael Rousseau said in a message to customers Wednesday night.

“Despite detailed and careful planning, the largest and fastest hiring in our history, and investments in aircraft and equipment, it is now clear that Air Canada’s operations, too, have been disrupted by the complex and inevitable challenges facing the industry.”

Mr Rousseau’s customer message did not provide details of the discounts, but Air Canada did provide details in a response to questions from The Globe and Mail.

Air Canada canceled nearly 10 percent of flights to Toronto over a seven-day period as staff shortages and passenger rush hit Pearson Airport

The airline said it was cutting its flight schedule by an average of 77 return flights, or 154 flights per day, for July and August. Air Canada currently operates an average of about 1,000 flights per day.

Three routes are temporarily suspended: Montreal to Pittsburgh; Baltimore to Kelowna; and Toronto to Fort McMurray.

Most of the affected flights are to and from Toronto or Montreal, Air Canada said. “This will mainly be frequency reductions, mainly affecting evening and night flights by smaller aircraft on cross-border and domestic routes,” the airline said in an emailed statement. “Our international flights are unaffected, with some timing changes to reduce peak-time flying and balance customer flow.”

As travelers returned to the skies in 2022 after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, global airline infrastructure struggled to keep up. Travelers to Toronto’s Pearson Airport have fared poorly, with massive lines at check-in, security and customs.

Air Canada canceled more than 350 flights into Pearson — nearly 10 percent of its schedule — in the first seven days of June as staff shortages and a surge in passenger numbers plagued Canada’s busiest airport. WestJet and Air Transat also experienced delays and cancellations at Pearson. Airports in Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver have had bottlenecks, but not to the extent of Pearson.

In his customer message, Mr. Rousseau described “flight cancellations and customer service deficiencies on our part that we would not have intended for our customers or our employees and for which we sincerely apologize.”

“This was not an easy decision as it will result in additional flight cancellations which will negatively impact some customers. However, by doing this in advance, affected customers can take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than having their journey interrupted just before or during the journey as few alternatives are available. It will also allow us to serve all customers more reliably.”

Shortly after the email was sent, Air Canada said its website is “currently experiencing technical issues which may prevent you from accessing your booking online… We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and thank you.” for your patience.”

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