A Bombardier CRJ200 is ready on the runway. (Photo: Pivot Airlines Facebook)
Pivot Airlines, formerly Air Georgian, began operations in the spring of 2020 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the airline focused on providing essential air services that connected resource sectors, health-care workers, and supply chains across Canada and South America. Pivot had retained Air Georgian’s core management staff, two CRJ 200s, and software licenses for flight dispatch and flight planning, which gave the company an immediate head start in its new operations.
Throughout the remainder of 2020, F/O Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president, acting as the custodian for the pilot group, and Pivot management worked together to ensure that ALPA would remain the bargaining agent for that airline’s pilots and to establish a better functioning and constructive working relationship compared to what had previously existed between the parties under the Air Georgian banner.
When the calendar turned to 2021, Perry was optimistic that the challenges the pilot group and management had gone through during the transition from Air Georgian to Pivot would soon be behind them.
With contract discussions in the preliminary stages during the onset of the pandemic, Perry remained hopeful that progress would be made in 2021. However as the year progressed and talks continued to reach an agreement on pay rates for the Dash 8, little traction was made beyond initial discussions regarding any applicable parts of the previous Air Georgian collective agreement that could be considered in a new contract. The parties also reached an impasse on which sections of the prior bargaining would be considered tentatively agreed to or outstanding.
During 2021, the airline looked to increase operations by entering the charter market and undertaking scheduled flying for business travelers from major airports throughout Ontario and Québec. The company established long-term agreements to provide flying services with various stakeholders across eastern Canada and also continued to look at the feasibility of operating charters and other ad hoc flying without a capacity purchase agreement partner.
While early attempts to obtain a contract with a major Canadian airline to provide regional service within eastern Canada and between Ontario, Québec, and the United States were abandoned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline did secure a formal arrangement with the Region of Waterloo International Airport to provide scheduled domestic air service to Ottawa, Toronto, and Windsor, Ont., and Montréal, Qué., in 2021 and beyond.
With this arrangement, the airline and ALPA were enthusiastic at the prospect of a true partnership with stakeholders of the Region of Waterloo International Airport and having their support with helping the airline develop regional markets aimed at serving the Waterloo region using Canadian-made CRJ and de Havilland Dash 8s. The agreement with the airport also allowed the airline to build maintenance, operations, and office facilities on the grounds. It was agreed that service would only begin after receiving the necessary regulatory approvals and be contingent upon loosening COVID-19 travel-related restrictions—a process that unfolded over the summer months.
Looking ahead, ALPA remains optimistic that Pivot will be successful and continue to grow and increase its pilot ranks following the company’s November announcement regarding the launch of scheduled air service between the Region of Waterloo International Airport and Ottawa beginning this February and between Waterloo and Montréal beginning in March. The airline currently provides group charter flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport and the Region of Waterloo International Airport.