F/O Katie Mikkelsen stands in front of a Jazz Aviation Dash 8 at Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
When the pilots of Jazz Aviation voted overwhelmingly to accept a new tentative agreement in early 2015, they secured a stable, long-term contract and with it a strong relationship with management.
The pilots’ current agreement contains a career-progression mechanism that allows for Jazz pilots hired before the contract was ratified to move to Air Canada through the pilot mobility agreement; the agreement also includes improvements and protections for those pilots who choose to remain at Jazz. Also included is a flow incentive payment that compensates for the difference in pay between a Jazz captain and Jazz senior first officer and an Air Canada first officer for the first four years by supplementing the pilot’s Air Canada salary. If the pilot declines the employment offer but agrees to retire from Jazz, the pilot can take the pay as a retirement bonus.
Although 250 pilots moved from Jazz Aviation to Air Canada through the pilot mobility agreement, the pilot group increased in size in 2016 due to the airline growing its capacity and introducing Q400s to its bases in Montreal, Que., and Vancouver, B.C., as well as returning CRJs to Vancouver. And in 2017, five more Q400s will be transferred to Jazz to cover Air Canada Express routes.
“We gained 120 pilots even in the wake of closing the Toronto CRJ base and reducing the size of our Calgary operations, as growth in Montreal and Vancouver offset these unfortunate losses,” said Capt. Claude Buraglia, the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman. “However, we’ve lost some of our committee volunteers as pilots transition to Air Canada, and it’s been difficult to replace them, but we’re managing.”
Due to a stable contract and growth of the airline, the pilots have strengthened their relationship with management and the Air Canada Pilots Association, the union that represents Air Canada pilots. In addition, the MEC continues to support ALPA’s Canada Board and the Association’s efforts to organize pilots who fly for Canadian carriers.
Buraglia commented that the pilots “are working on growth opportunities with the company and are hopeful that they will materialize.” He also noted that “the MEC continues to work on strengthening communications with the pilot group, including building a new, user-friendly MEC website and promoting our very active Family Awareness Committee activities.”
Building a robust outreach program to reach younger generations, the MEC created Jazz Pilots For Kids, which is active in the Toronto, Ont., community. Pilot volunteers have been working with the Toronto Children’s Breakfast Clubs, a charitable organization that believes every child is entitled to a nutritious breakfast, and were instrumental in organizing a successful winter coat collection drive, with other Jazz employees donating to the effort. These initiatives, due to their success in Toronto, are being duplicated and expanded to Montreal; Vancouver; Calgary, Alb.; and Victoria, B.C., where Jazz also has pilots.
In 2017, the MEC will reevaluate the pilots’ strategic plan. “Our initial plan was created in 2011; and while we’ve done some maintenance over the years, we’re in a different place now. It’s time to reexamine our priorities and direction,” said Buraglia.
Jazz Aviation pilots are hopeful that the airline will continue to grow and prosper in 2017. And from the looks of things, they have every reason to be optimistic. “I’m confident 2017 will be a good year,” Buraglia stated.