Cargojet is threatening to lay off almost half of its 283 Canadian pilots and move part of its operations to the U.S. if Transport Canada doesn’t exempt the company from new crew rest rules. The threat was contained in documents accompanying a vote held by Unifor, the union representing the pilots, on whether to back the company’s bid for an exemption. A total of 65 percent of union members rejected the idea. The content of the vote information was reported by Reuters. So far Cargojet hasn’t commented but Unifor spokesman Scott Doherty told the National Post the union is concerned about “losing jobs to the U.S. during a pandemic because they play by a different set of rules.”
Canada enacted duty day and flight time limitations for all commercial carriers earlier this year and Cargojet officials have said in earlier comments that the rules open the door to unfair competition from U.S. cargo carriers. Cargojet recently hired 63 pilots, in part to comply with the new rules but also because it’s growing rapidly because of the pandemic. It does some work for Amazon and hopes to expand in the U.S. The carrier says the new rules have raised costs and made it harder to compete. The request put before the union raised the hackles of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) which is lobbying the U.S. authorities to include cargo crews in existing crew rest regs that cover passenger flights.