Unions that represent many employees of Canada’s airlines are calling on Ottawa to hand out $7 billion in low-interest loans to their companies and give them 10 years to pay them back to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unions also want the airlines to have access to rapid virus tests to help them operate while keeping staff and passengers safe. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis in Canada’s aviation industry unlike anything seen before, and recovery may be years away,” Tim Perry, head of the Air Line Pilots Association’s Canadian branch, said at a news conference in Toronto.
The head of the Air Canada Pilots Association said keeping the airlines operating is essential to long-term economic health. “Make no mistake, decimating this industry today will impede the recovery for Canadians tomorrow and beyond,” said Robert Giguere. The plan is in line with government aid offered in European countries and while loan guarantees are part of the suggested package there are no grants. Not all unions supported the plan. The Canadian Union of Public Employees wanted conditions that ensured money flowed to employees rather than “protecting only corporate bottom lines.” The federal government has pledged to extend emergency relief measures for workers and business but nothing specific for aviation.