An Air Transat A330 during sunset at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Improving pilot unity, building a stronger network of pilot volunteers, and becoming the best advocates they can for their 600-plus pilots were the top priorities for the Air Transat Master Executive Council (MEC) in 2018. And they succeeded.
The MEC’s emphasis in 2018 remained centered on enforcing the five-year collective agreement the pilot group reached with management in 2016 and keeping a focus on important safety issues, including safety management systems (SMS) and the Canadian government’s updates to pilot flight- and duty-time regulations.
“As professional pilots, it’s our duty to maintain the safest operations possible, not just for ourselves, but for those who trust us to fly them to their destinations safely day in and day out,” said Capt. Sébastien Roussel, the Air Transat pilots’ MEC chair. “We also have an obligation to create a working atmosphere with our airline’s management that promotes a culture of safety, accountability, responsibility, and fairness.”
Throughout 2018, the MEC worked diligently with Air Transat management on issues such as SMS, flight time/duty time, and scheduling in order to achieve a more collaborative working relationship.
MEC leaders also worked to enhance the pilots’ communications network, including developing an overall strategic plan to follow as they prepare for future rounds of contract negotiations and establishing a comprehensive communications strategy that includes a crisis-management plan, media training, and increased internal pilot communications. With a pilot base in Montréal, Qué., the communications strategy contains a francophone media component, including how Air Transat pilots can best engage customers in the city through increased community engagements, media outreach, and positioning the MEC as the go-to voice in Québec for aviation.
The MEC also focused heavily on enhancing pilot engagement and recruiting committee volunteers, including redeveloping the Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee and the Pilot-to-Pilot program. These actions will continue throughout the coming year, as the pilots ramp up their preparations well ahead of contract negotiations that could begin before the end of this year.
In 2019, the pilots will also continue to work with management; ALPA’s various departments, including Government Affairs; and the MECs of ALPA’s Canadian pilot groups regarding the implementation of the new flight-time/duty-time regulations and other legislation to ensure the best outcomes possible for Canadian airline pilots and the airline industry as a whole.
“Building relationships is important in any profession,” noted Roussel. “In 2018, we were able to form stronger bonds with our North American ALPA brothers and sisters, and we’re confident that these bonds will pay dividends in the very near future. As ALPA continues to grow, we’ll be in an even stronger position to speak with one voice and advance our goals when engaging with industry stakeholders and Members of Parliament. This will benefit not only Air Transat pilots but all Canadian airline pilots.”