Did Transat not use Thomas Cook to operate a large amount of their UK flying for a number of years? It may not have been a true wet-lease arrangement but it's the same thing. The tour operator using a foreign airline to provide a large amount of lift on certain routes because it offered them a cost advantage... If I remember correctly, Transat pilots had to battle pretty hard and even threaten strike action in order to get language in their contract that prevented Transat from taking greater advantage of foreign providers of lift. I wouldn't exactly call that playing fair.
Not quite the same. Transat used Thomas Cook strictly on UK-Canada flights, something that Thomas Cook, a British Carrier, could legally do without Transat's blessing and cover at the CTA. It was like a "code sharing" for charter airlines.
Here is the relevant CTA decision
So this is more in line with the present relationship between Corsair and Sunwing, except that Sunwing and Corsair both belong to TUI, whereas the Transat-Thomas Cook relation was purely contractual.
It does not mean I agreed with it, I did not, and you are correct that this was one of the major issues of our last contract negotiations where we negotiated a limit that Transat could outsource to non Air Transat carriers, including Canadian ones such as Canjet, Westjet etc.
In the case of Westjet, the Thomas Cook aircraft and crew did flights between Canada and a third country, namely the US. This, Thomas Cook could never do unless under Wet-Lease from a Canadian Carrier. This is also the case with the EuroAtlantic 767s that Sunwing Wet-Leased. They are doing flights between Canada and third countries, meaning other than Portugal.
Companies will use wet leases when they see that a commercial advantage exists. This is the world of business. Westjet, Air Canada and Sunwing use or have used foreign carriers for wet leases. like it not; Wet Leases from Foriegn Carriers will be operating in the Canadian Market place for years to come.
As pilots we may see foreign registered aircraft being flown by a foreigner. But what does a company see? A cost effective way to serve a market without placing undue financial risk to their operation.
The B757 operation at Westjet offers a commercial advantage that the B737 NG cannot offer in the Hawaii market. It is prudent on WestJet's part to keep their costs down while they compete in the market.
All operators in Canada have the right to conduct business & utilize Foriegn Wet Leases as they see fit. It is up to each operator to decide what is in their financial best interests to their shareholders and to act prudently on their shareholders behalf.
Sunwing the tour operator is doing much the same thing only on a larger scale during the winter months. As much as we would rather see more Canadian Registered aircraft operated by Canadian Pilots, the reality is that if Canada was to close the door to foreign wet lease, it would be very bad for the Canadian Pilots operating in Europe on wet leases if Europe was to take the same position. Not only that: what of the 1500 or so employees at Sunwing? Do they not contribute to the Canadian economy? Indeed they do. What about the consumer? Government supports competition that is good for the consumer.
The government has to consider all aspects of the general public when they make policies.
Wet Leases are a tool that commercial aviation uses to be competitive in providing the services to the public. No matter what we think as pilots, it will not be just our voices heard when appealing to the government on a issue as this.
Like it not: This could be why the outcome to these complaints are not meeting the expectations of a protesting pilot population.
EA306, let's suppose a large company with 80 B-737NGs from an emerging economy is in financial difficulty. It owns a large fleet which has been financed by its local government and they are stuck with them for the local government cannot declare bankruptcy nor can they return aircraft purchased at public expense. In that country, B-737NG Captains earn $50K, first officers earn about $25K and the average Cabin crew earns around $11K. This company suddenly finds a contract with a Canadian Carrier to send 15 aircraft on Wet-Lease year round, and an additional 20 on Wet-Lease for six months, during our winter season, which suits it fine because their high season is opposite to Canada's. The aircraft are provided at a bargain price. Even engineers are sent to maintain them. All these people are lodged in an inexpensive airport area motels, two to a room for the Cabin crew, and get a small per-diem which they mostly send home, for they cook their meals in their rooms. The cabin crew all speak perfect English and are all University graduates.
The CTA approves the Wet-Lease because it make economic sense, is in the public interests in that it allows for Canadians to travel ever cheaper at a very low cost to the Canadian carrier.
This being a Wet-Lease, the Foreign crews do not need Canadian Work Permits and are not subject to Canadian Federal Labour Laws. The Foreign crews and mechanics are not subject to Transport Canada oversight, as long as they meet ICAO Annex 1 requirements and the rules in their home country. The aircraft need to be maintained under their home country's rules, which must, at a minimum, meet ICAO Annex 8 standards, not Transport Canada's. The Regs the aircraft will be operated under will be their home country's' which must meet at the minimum ICAO Annex 6, not Transport Canada's. This, and nothing else, is what Transport Canada will check, before it issues a Foreign Carrier's certificate to that Airline. The foreign airline will provide to TC all the paperwork from its home country attesting to full ICAO and local compliance. And on that basis, a Canadian Airline will be selling tickets to Canadians in Canada, for flights originating in Canada while the passengers will be flying on foreign aircraft operated and maintained by foreign crews, under the rules of another country. There is a Canadian requirement that they notify the passengers about this, which will appear in the fine print somewhere........
What in any Canadian legislation prevents such a thing to happen ? Nothing! It all balances on the Transport Ministers' discretion as to what "Public Interest" stands for.