Former Transport Minister Marc Garneau has been promoted to Foreign Affairs Minister and replaced by Omar Alghabra, a Mississauga MP. On his first day on the job, Air Canada announced 1,900 layoffs and route cuts to smaller markets including Fredericton, Gander, Goose Bay, Kamloops and Prince Rupert, setting up what Mike McNaney, president of the National Airlines Council of Canada called “an existential crisis.” The Air Canada cuts came days after WestJet cut 30 percent of its flights, affecting 1,000 employees in some way or another.
Both carriers blamed government COVID restrictions. The new minister says help is on the way for airlines but there are strings attached. “But before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure that Canadians get their (ticket) refunds, regional communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada, and Canadian air carriers maintain their status as key customers of Canada’s aerospace industry,” Allison St-Jean, a spokeswoman for the minister, said. McNaney said help is urgently required. “If we don’t get this right, then the economic recovery of the country overall will absolutely be undermined,” he added. “The challenges could not be bigger for the new minister.”