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Flight attendants in Canada demand ground pay citing airport delays

Flight attendants in Canada are seeking reimbursement for time spent on the ground as well as in flight, after experiencing lengthy delays at the country’s main airport due to personnel shortages, health checks, and increased traffic.

As some inbound planes are held up at the gate at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport for up to three hours, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says its members are increasingly working for free.

Flight attendants in the United States are negotiating contracts with airlines such as American Airlines and want to be paid while boarding.

Beginning June 2, Delta Air Lines will begin compensating flight attendants when they board passengers.

Cabin crew demands could put extra cost pressure on airlines still recovering from the pandemic’s traffic drop.

While Air Canada flight attendants are not in contract talks, Wesley Lesosky, president of CUPE’s airline division, claimed the Toronto delays are lowering rest times.

Flight attendants, according to Lesosky, are increasingly concerned about the busy summer travel season if delays continue. ‘As the summer approaches, our main fear is cabin temperature and people becoming disruptive.’

About 15,000 flight attendants are represented by CUPE at nine airlines, including Air Canada.

According to Toronto business leaders, including the region’s board of trade, 7,000 passengers waited longer than 90 minutes on planes last week.

‘Nearly half of all foreign arriving passengers, or 100,000 persons, were delayed last week, a 20% rise in the last two weeks,’ the organisations stated in a statement.

Flight attendants are paid in full while in the air, which usually ends 15 minutes after arrival at the gate, according to Lesosky.

Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Minister of Transport’s office has stated that it is working with the industry to alleviate delays.


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