Air traffic control company has cut 720 jobs since March in response to the global pandemic
NAV Canada will review services offered at 24 Canadian airports
NAV Canada, the country’s air traffic controller, will cut hundreds of permanent jobs, close two pilot information centres, and review services at two dozen airports across the country, the company announced late Tuesday. The cuts affect all departments, and include most of the students in the company’s air traffic control programme.
“Undoubtedly, the company is in the midst of the toughest moment in its history,” said Neil Wilson, NAV Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “NAV CANADA is not immune to the economic downturn and severe financial impacts the aviation industry is experiencing.”
The not-for-profit company runs Canada’s air traffic control system as well as en route control over much of the North Atlantic. It makes its money by charging fees for its services. But with fewer flights in and over Canada, the agency has seen its revenues plummet. The agency said it handled 65.6% fewer flights in August compared to a year ago.
NAV Canada said its workforce at the beginning of March was 5,100 people. Including early retirements and voluntary departures, the agency says it has cut 720 jobs as a result of the pandemic, 14% of its workforce. In March, NAV Canada cut management wages and offered early retirement packages. It has also taken advantage of federal wage subsidies during the pandemic.
As part of its cuts, NAV Canada said it would close flight information centres in Halifax and Winnipeg. FICs offer weather and flight information to pilots. The company said its remaining centres in Kamloops, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Quebec City and London, Ontario would pick up the slack. It does not expect air traffic services to be affected by the changes.
It will also review service at 24 airports across the country. The largest airport up for a so-called aeronautical study is Fort McMurray International Airport. Other facilities, such as Inuvik in the Northwest Territories or Blanc Sablon, Quebec, are well off the beaten path.
The studies consider a number of factors including traffic volume, mix, and distribution throughout the day; weather; airport and airspace configuration; surface activity; and the efficiency requirements of operators using the service. Terms will be released in the coming days.
“The aviation industry is contracting and faces profound changes,” said Wilson in a statement. “We continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic and will continue to take steps as they are necessary to align service with traffic levels while maintaining the integrity of the air navigation system.”
NAV Canada has already raised fees an average of 29.5% to try to bolster its bottom line. The move angered airlines who said it would hurt their efforts to get people flying again.
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