An Air Transat A330-200 at Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Last year as Air Transat celebrated 30 years in operation, the carrier’s 580-plus pilots launched a new era of pilot leadership with a first: the election of a Toronto, Ont.-based pilot, Capt. Sébastien Roussel, as the pilot group’s Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman after the MEC opted for a two-council structure. In addition, in August the four voting members of the MEC elected Capt. Piero Desjardins as the MEC vice chairman and Capt. Pierre Lessard as the MEC secretary-treasurer.
The MEC’s focus in 2017 centered on enforcing the five-year collective agreement the pilot group reached with management in 2016 and on setting a course for an amicable relationship with the company, which has undergone various changes to its corporate structure and will be transitioning from the current widebody Airbus/narrowbody Boeing fleet to an all-Airbus fleet.
“The B-737 was necessary to compete with the competition and helped grow our pilot group to the numbers we have today,” said Roussel. “The pilots rose to the challenge of being dually qualified on widebody Airbuses and narrowbody Boeings. Having succeeded with this model, in spite of the training challenges and scheduling problems, the group welcomes the change to an all-Airbus mixed-fleet flying model.”
In November 2017, Air Transat celebrated its 30th anniversary in Montreal, Que., with the unveiling of new A330s and a new livery. The company also updated its fleet with the purchase of new A321LRs to replace aging A310s, signing an agreement with Dublin, Ireland-based AerCap to lease 10 A321LRs. The airline also maintains two A330s on wet- and damp-lease in Warsaw, Poland, and Dusseldorf, Germany.
In 2018, the pilots will continue to work with management and ALPA’s Government Affairs Department to ensure compliance with the new rules surrounding Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Due in large part to ALPA’s efforts, Parliament mandated in 2014 that Canadian airlines would no longer be allowed to staff seasonal variations in fleet capacity with foreign pilots when unemployed Canadian pilots are available for hire.
“We’re keeping a close eye on the Temporary Foreign Worker program,” noted Roussel. “It’s imperative that the program is no longer used as an unfair labour advantage by airlines in Canada. The campaign against this practice was arduous as it involved educating multiple government departments.”
In addition to taking on a key role in supporting improvements to Canada’s federal aviation standards, the group also continues to support its local communities. In 2017, Air Transat pilots cosponsored an annual gala for Quebec’s Carrefour Pour Elle Foundation, an organization and shelter that helps provide support to women and children affected by domestic violence. The pilots also partnered with Moisson Laurentides, a local food bank, for a holiday drive culminating in the pilots dedicating a day of service during which they worked a shift at the charity’s warehouse.