TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Season

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gonnabeapilot
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TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Season

#1 Post by gonnabeapilot » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:52 am

Yesterday we received word that Service Canada has denied Sunwing's application to use the Temporary Foreign Worker program to help staff our winter 2015/16 summer program. So congratulations to Gilles and those that were part of the team that lobbied against the use of TFWs, you have accomplished your goal. That being said, I question whether your focus on shutting down the use of the TFW program has made you lose site of the forest for the trees? I would argue that it has....

Was the reason for your battle to prevent the use of Foreign workers in Canada?

If it was, this TFW decision doesn't really change anything. Sunwing's business plan for winter 2015/16 had us operating a fleet of 37 C-reg aircraft and one F-reg aircraft for a total winter fleet of 38 aircraft. To staff this, the plan was to make use of 100 TFW foreign pilots to help operate the C-reg aircraft and the one F-reg aircraft would be operated using 8 foreign wet-lease crews. This meant that the original plan had Sunwing using a total number of 116 foreign pilots. Now that the TFW application has been denied, Sunwing will be operating a fleet of 32 C-reg aircraft and 6 F-reg aircraft for a total winter fleet of 38 aircraft. As the 6 F-reg aircraft are operated using 8 crews per aircraft Sunwing will still have 96 foreign pilots helping to operate our winter program.

Essentially this TFW decision has eliminated 20 foreign pilots coming to Canada this winter. So does it prevent the use of foreign pilots? No, it does not. It means there will be a bit more over-time going around this winter so I suppose my wallet should thank you.

Was the reason for your battle to help Canadian pilots?

If it was, this TFW decision has managed to achieve the opposite effect. For reasons that I will never understand, over the last few years the conversation about the use of foreign pilots in Canada has revolved around how the use of the TFW program and license validations is bad and wet-leases are okay. This weird obsession with the TFW program and the use of license validations completely ignores the entire reason this conversation began in the first place... Canadian airlines were making use of excessive numbers of foreign crews and people wanted to make sure that if foreign crews were being used, it would have 1 for 1 reciprocity with Canadian crews working overseas ensuring that the benefits were felt equally on both sides of the Atlantic. A foreign pilot working in Canada is a foreign pilot working in Canada so who cares if they're flying C-reg or F-reg? Well anyone claiming to be trying to help Canadian pilots should!

The fact of the matter is that having foreign pilots operate mixed crew on C-reg aircraft was a better system for Canadians in general.... pilots, cabin crew and the travelling public. How? Well I'll use Sunwing as an example. The benefits of having foreign pilots operate C-reg started off with the fact that a license validations was required. That meant that every foreign pilot that came to work in Canada as a TFW had to go through Sunwing's ground-school, simulator, line indoc and line check program to verify competency. This program was overseen by Canadian pilots as well as Transport Canada. Over the years, this program sent back a number of foreign pilots who did not meet the standards that Sunwing set out. Guess what?? When the push against the TFW program meant that Sunwing had to start using F-reg wet-leases instead, some of the pilots that had not passed their Canadian license validation program returned to operate the F-reg wet-leases. Wet-leases don't require any Canadian oversight and so we ended up with foreign pilots who didn't meet the Canadian standard flying Canadian passengers and Sunwing no longer had control over it. How exactly is this preferable to the TFW program?

In terms of lifestyle, having foreign TFW pilots operate C-reg at Sunwing meant that every place an aircraft was based was open to Canadian pilots as well. Since Canadian pilots can't operate a foreign wet-lease aircraft, bases that make use of the wet-lease aircraft are now closed off to Canadian pilots. Essentially what this means is that Canadian pilots who were looking forward to a seasonal winter base so they could spend time at home with their families are out of luck. They will be stuck commuting while a foreign wet-lease aircraft operates out of their home town. How exactly is this preferable to the TFW program?

The conversation about lifestyle also applies to seniority. At Sunwing, TFW foreign pilots operating C-reg aircraft were placed at the bottom of the seniority list when it came to bidding. It meant that this winter the most junior Canadian pilot would have automatically had 100 foreign pilots below them on the seniority list. When it comes to a seniority based bidding system, your ability to secure days off, pairings etc... all comes down to your number on the list. Now the most junior Canadian pilot will remain at the bottom of the list because the use of foreign wet-leases means that not only will the foreign pilots not be at the bottom of the seniority list, they will have been removed from the seniority list completely. Certain bases will now be closed completely to Canadian pilots and of the bases that remain, some will have foreign wet-lease aircraft mixed in. It means that the flights assigned to the wet-lease aircraft are not available for Canadian pilots to operate and a Canadian pilot's ability to get days off will be reduced as the bidding pool is smaller. How exactly is this preferable to the TFW program?

So where exactly does this decision on TFWs leave us?? Well, there will be 20 fewer foreign pilots at Sunwing this winter. In order to accomplish that, at least 300 Canadian pilots at Sunwing will have a lower quality of life and tens of thousands members of the travelling Canadian public will now be flying on foreign wet-lease aircraft with zero Canadian oversight. If Air Transat makes use of 4 foreign wet-lease aircraft this winter, this number will increase to include the 500 Canadian pilots there as well as the tens of thousands members of the travelling Canadian public who will be flying with them. Perhaps a winter at Air Transat with foreign wet-leases will finally force some to re-examine their beliefs that wet-leases are somehow better than foreign pilots operating C-reg mixed crew... perhaps not. But this is the world that people who have been crusading against the TFW program have wanted us to live in. Does it solve the question about reciprocity? Nope. Does it benefit Canadian pilots? Nope. Does it benefit the travelling Canadian public? Nope. But it is a battle won so..... congratulations??
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#2 Post by ahramin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:32 am

Gonnabeapilot you are misinformed on the TFW vs wet lease issue. Foreign wet leases are not good and there is active opposition to them. They are currently capped at 20% thanks to this opposition. A bit more info so you can get yourself up to speed:

https://www.otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/publicati ... et-leasing

http://www.alpa.org/~/media/ALPA/Files/ ... .pdf?la=en

Rather than coming on here and complaining about your quality of life due to a successful (for now) curtailing of TFWs coming illegally to Canada, I would suggest getting involved in your union and work on negotiating limits to foreign wet leases similar to what other unions like ACPA and ALPA have negotiated.

20 less foreign pilots means 20 seasonal jobs for Canadian pilots. I view that as a huge win for Canadian pilots, even if it means some grumbling at the top of the seniority list.

Congratulations Gilles are definitely in order but perhaps now it's up to the rest of us to finally pick up the torch and continue working on ending this ridiculous situation that allows Canadian airlines to outsource our work.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#3 Post by mantogasrsrwy » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:14 pm

Twenty less foreign pilots at Sunwing and how many more foreign pilots at Transat? Seems like a net loss to me.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#4 Post by rudder » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:24 pm

Whether it was 2015/2016 or 2016/2017, anybody who could read the tea leaves knew that TFWP pilot staffing at SW was coming to a close either voluntarily or involuntarily. It just happened sooner rather than later.

Now the only tool available to any CDN AOC holder is wet lease subject to the statutory 20% of permanent fleet limitation. I guess that some might call this a 'level playing field'.

I hope they both AT and SW pilot representatives can begin meaningful and productive discussions towards stimulating the hiring of a greater number of seasonal pilots both now and in the future to deal with the accordion fleets that are the nature of the tour company business in Canada. One would presume that the employers would be interested in such discussion given the added expense of wet lease and loss of flexibility/productivity when some of the operating fleet is foreign registered and those crews must follow foreign FT/DT limitations.

Life is all about balance and one cannot help but thinking that the scales just tipped a little back towards the middle. Life will go on. Go get better seasonal pilot language in your CBA then your entire pilot roster will be comprised of Canadians and your entire operating fleet will be Canadian registration. And the permanent pilots will benefit as a result in both schedule and QOL. Same advice for AT.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#5 Post by gonnabeapilot » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:37 pm

Ahramin, I appreciate the links. You're correct that wet leases can only account for 20% of an airline's fleet however I'm sure you also noted that 20% of 32 aircraft is roughly 6 aircraft so Sunwing's winter fleet plan conforms to this regulation. Sorry to disappoint but you will not find me racing to eliminate this 20% rule due to the simple fact that if we close our doors completely to the European pilots they will simply close their doors to us.

The fact is that 1:1 reciprocity is a good thing for Canadian aviation. If the European's chose to close their doors to us there would be 70 of my Canadian colleagues on the street collecting EI right now, wondering when they might get to work again instead of benefiting from good quality year-round employment that is thanks to their ability to work in Europe. A further 35 of my Canadian colleagues would be downgraded for the summer taking rather hefty pay cuts. How exactly is that good for Canadian aviation?

Yes, you can argue that eliminating the 20% wet lease rule would lead to a further 96 seasonal Canadian jobs but does Canadian aviation truly benefit if we only look at this issue as a numbers game? I don't think so. Since when does a low time pilot aspire to make $35,000 and only work 6 months of the year just so they can fly a jet? Even if this is something that might sound appealing to some poor pilot stuck flying a King Air in the Arctic will they still think that way after 2 or 3 years? No. At some point they will want year round employment that pays them a good salary. 1:1 European reciprocity gives them that. Seasonal employment does not.

If the number of Canadian pilot jobs are all you truly care about I suggest you work with your employer to slash wages in half. The lower wages will allow your employer to expand and more Canadian pilots will be hired! Yes, they will be hired into a position with crappy pay but who cares??? Jobs!!! Jobs!!! Jobs!!! If what you care about is working to improve Canadian aviation to create the greatest number of well paying, quality year round jobs I suggest you focus your efforts on creating a system that guarantees and yes even encourages 1:1 reciprocity
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#6 Post by ahramin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:12 pm

1:1 (or close to) reciprocity is indeed a laudable goal. I wasn't aware that Sunwing had 6 aircraft in Europe this summer. If everyone working for a seasonal airline could get that into their CBAs it would indeed be another step forward for our profession here.

While I believe that there are many pilots in Canada who would indeed be interested in winter seasonal jet positions (Water bombers and crop dusters come to mind), I agree that full time employment is should be the norm. What I don't agree with is that we should accept scraps from the table or allow illegal TFWs in order to ensure all positions are full time. If there is a model for long term employment of seasonal Canadian pilots, even seasonal Captains, I want those positions available to those Canadians that want them. Even if it means senior F/Os making a choice between seasonal Captain or full time F/O. We have a huge amount of pilot talent in this country, and no need to claim otherwise in order to enhance bottom lines. I'm certainly not interested in giving away Canadian jobs to foreigners when we have plenty of qualified pilots here at home just to improve my seniority or quality of life.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#7 Post by FICU » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:14 pm

Denied until the right hands are greased...

I'm sure TUI will do whatever it can to keep it's advantage.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#8 Post by watermeth » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:19 pm

gonnabe, check pm :wink:
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#9 Post by rudder » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:25 pm

The only reference to reciprocity in any current policy, statue, or law does not apply to wet lease nor wet lease/TFW on a substitution basis. TFW and wet lease are also not the same issue in policy or statute although the net result of each is a loss of CDN pilot job opportunities. Anything that ALPA or UNIFOR can do in this regard would be beneficial. The replacement of TFW by maximum wet lease is not so much an unintended consequence as is is a step towards more logical and lasting pilot staffing solutions. Any company that relies on third party statutory approval for pilot staffing be it via TFW or wet lease is placing themselves in some commercial and operational jeopardy.

One immediate benefit for SW is the training department now has 100 less FLVC candidates to process in the fall for the GS/SIM/PPC and line indoc/line check phases. Perhaps those resources could now be used to train both permanent and seasonal additions to the pilot roster. There is always a silver lining.

And as Ahramin said - seasonal Captaincies may eventually have to be evaluated. These pilots would be rostered below the permanent Captains so all the QOL issues described in earlier posts will be achieved. The logistics are challenging but not insurmountable. It will be interesting to see who gets to the new model first.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#10 Post by ahramin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:30 pm

rudder wrote:seasonal Captaincies may eventually have to be evaluated. These pilots would be rostered below the permanent Captains so all the QOL issues described in earlier posts will be achieved. The logistics are challenging but not insurmountable. It will be interesting to see who gets to the new model first.
Below the permanent Captains, but also above the permanent F/Os. The only way the model makes sense for experienced seasonal pilots is if they can be seasonal Captains. With every union in Canada firmly entrenched in pure "seniority means everything" systems, they are going to refuse to allow seasonal Captains to come in. I believe Sunwing's CBA already stipulates this. So how to fill a seasonal Captain position then? Force F/Os wanting an upgrade to become seasonally employed? Not going to happen. Allow permanent F/Os to be F/Os in the low season and Captains in the high season? Then you need twice as many seasonal F/Os and suddenly no one is interested in the seasonal position because it is at the bottom of the payscale, half the year, and the only way to upgrade is to take full time employment, which isn't going to interest anyone looking for seasonal employment.

If seasonal positions are going to be a small but actual part of the Canadian labour market, the employers and unions are going to have to agree that these are separate from the full time positions, with their own seniority lists. Pilots should be able to move from one group to the other if their seniority allows for it, but if you try to shove all the seasonal positions at the bottom of the list, it's not going to work. Not for the employers, and not for the seasonal employees.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#11 Post by rudder » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:25 pm

ahramin wrote:
If seasonal positions are going to be a small but actual part of the Canadian labour market, the employers and unions are going to have to agree that these are separate from the full time positions, with their own seniority lists. Pilots should be able to move from one group to the other if their seniority allows for it, but if you try to shove all the seasonal positions at the bottom of the list, it's not going to work. Not for the employers, and not for the seasonal employees.
Every wet lease Captain is a de facto seasonal Captain. The only issue here is whether the AT and SW pilots want their seasonal Captains to have CDN passports or foreign passports. It is that simple.

The Service Canada decision has changed the landscape but not the result. Do nothing and there are still going to be dozens of seasonal Captains at both AT and SW regardless via continued wet lease. SW will likely continue a small summer wet lease operation in Europe until the EASA restrictions become too onerous. Are there any plans for AT pilots to deploy to Europe in the summer?

There are probably several ways to skin the 'seasonal pilot' cat. The current SW language is not necessarily the most effective language. Perhaps it is AT's turn to come up with a better mousetrap although it would appear that seasonal fleet and capacity fluctuations are less of a problem in the AT system.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#12 Post by monkey » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:47 pm

It's a global business environment these days. Language that ensures a 1:1 ratio of exchange pilots is the way to go as it ensures full time employement with healthy companies.

How many seats does air canada or WJ sell on foreign airlines? Everyone makes use of foreign pilots.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#13 Post by ahramin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:10 pm

rudder wrote:Every wet lease Captain is a de facto seasonal Captain. The only issue here is whether the AT and SW pilots want their seasonal Captains to have CDN passports or foreign passports. It is that simple.
Exactly. And from what I have seen, both the SW and AT unions are adamantly against seasonal Captains having Canadian passports because it messes with the primacy of seniority. Ridiculous situation, but that's how old boys clubs work.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#14 Post by Gilles Hudicourt » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:29 am

I was working until very late yesterday and have not yet had time to read any of the above, except very superficially.

What I can conclude however, is that Air Transat and Sunwing both need extra Canadian B737 pilots this coming winter, both First Officers and Captains.

As rightfully stated by Rudder Foreign Wet lease pilots and especially Foreign Wet Lease Captains ARE Direct Entry Captains, the only difference is that they are foreign. I would prefer to see Canadian Captains at Air Transat and Sunwing than Wet-Lease Captains.

I was shocked at a Sunwing's Collective agreement clause that prohibited Canadian Seasonal Captains but saw no problems with the hiring of Foreign Seasonal Captains whether of TFW or the Wet-Lease kind.

The Sunwing pilot group seemed to find some sort of comfort or security in the foreign status of the foreign captains, as people who would not permanently take their seniority slots or upgrades away from them, whereas Canadian pilots might.

It seems that Air Transat suffers from the same disease this year. We prefer to see foreigners hired as Captains because the Canadian seasonal Captains are seen as a threat to our seniority based system.

I will comment further on the above posts when I get a chance to read them properly.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#15 Post by rudder » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:01 pm

ahramin wrote: Exactly. And from what I have seen, both the SW and AT unions are adamantly against seasonal Captains having Canadian passports because it messes with the primacy of seniority. Ridiculous situation, but that's how old boys clubs work.
SW will never be able to find 140 seasonal FO. For each CDN seasonal Capt on the winter roster provide bypass pay to the senior FO who is qualified to fill that vacancy. The difference between the FO pay rate and Year 1 Capt would not be that much. Seasonal Capt have no permanent seniority number so they can never leapfrog a permanent pilot. They are by definition non-permanent. There would never be such a significant number of seasonal Capt that would substantially interfere with progression for a permanent FO to an eventual upgrade. The reality for accordion fleet companies is that there will be some pilots that are winter Capt and summer FO.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#16 Post by Gilles Hudicourt » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:33 pm

ahramin wrote:I wasn't aware that Sunwing had 6 aircraft in Europe this summer.
I count 4 : CFEAK, CFFPH, CFTDW and CFTOH
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#17 Post by AirMail » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:37 pm

Perhaps reciprocal wet leases are in order now?
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#18 Post by rudder » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:52 pm

AirMail wrote:Perhaps reciprocal wet leases are in order now?
They sort of are but not based on a formula but rather based on whether there is a jusisdictional embargo or not (excerpt from the CTA website):

"The Wet-Lease Policy criteria are as follows:

For wet-leases of more than 30 days, a number of aircraft equal to 20 percent of the number of Canadian-registered aircraft on the lessee's Air Operator Certificate (AOC) at the time the wet-lease application is made may be wet-leased from foreign lessors.

If Canadian air carriers cannot enjoy reciprocal opportunities to wet lease in a foreign jurisdiction, the Agency should condition or deny an application involving a lessor from that jurisdiction.

Repeated wet-lease applications may be permitted as long as the 20-percent cap is not exceeded.
Applicants must provide a rationale for their applications. Applications will not be denied solely on the basis of this rationale as long as the number of wet leases is within the above mentioned 20-percent cap.

The renewal of an application for a short-term wet lease may be contemplated provided it is not used as a means to circumvent the above provisions."


As I said in another post, CDN AOC holders need to be careful building a fleet model that in part relies on third party statutory approval.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#19 Post by FICU » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:32 pm

20 percent of the number of Canadian-registered aircraft on the lessee's Air Operator Certificate (AOC) at the time the wet-lease application is made may be wet-leased from foreign lessors
I'm guessing Sunwing will be adding a bunch of C-152s to their AOC so they can bump up the amount of foreign wet-leases. :rolleyes:
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#20 Post by Gilles Hudicourt » Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:05 am

FICU wrote:I'm guessing Sunwing will be adding a bunch of C-152s to their AOC so they can bump up the amount of foreign wet-leases. :rolleyes:
You thought you were joking but Transport Canada had been victim to such a ploy by some operators wanting to circumvent this regulation.
Maximum Number of Leased Aircraft 203.07 (1) No Canadian air operator shall, pursuant to section 203.03, operate a number of leased aircraft registered in a foreign state that exceeds 25 per cent of the total number of aircraft registered to that Canadian air operator, rounded to the next highest whole number.
Even I was on the lookout for Sunwing attempting something similar. So this time, when the Rule was written, they added this:
For the purpose of this Policy, small aircraft are excluded from the determination of the number of Canadian-registered aircraft on the lessee's AOC. Small aircraft is defined as an aircraft equipped for the carriage of passengers and having a certificated maximum carrying capacity of not more than 39 passengers.
Sunwing was also aware of CAR 203.07 because they also petitioned for the CTA to allow Wet-leases based on 20% of th the fleet, rounded to the nearest highest whole number, as in CAR 203.07(1), whereas the Minister decided that for Foreign wet leases, the number would be rounded to the closest integer, ie 2.45 = 2 and 2.51 = 3.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#21 Post by FICU » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:47 am

Nice to see they did something right. Thanks Gilles.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#22 Post by ahramin » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:34 pm

I am quite surprised they denied it. It would be interesting to FOIA the request and see what the basis for the application was and why it was denied.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#23 Post by Galaxy » Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:59 am

If SW doesn't get their act together, there's going to be a lot of pilots out of work. I for one will not be a return customer, and according to the very bad publicity for them on the news these days I'm not the only one.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#24 Post by oxfordhouse » Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:54 pm

Denied for now is right. Wait until the Federal Election is over. If the conservatives are in power again, then you can bet this will go back to the same deal.
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Re: TFW Application Denied for Sunwing's Winter 2015/16 Seas

#25 Post by rudder » Sat Aug 08, 2015 2:52 pm

If SWG with all of its political connections cannot get a single TFW pilot approved for winter 2015/2016 then one can reasonably assume that TFW for airline pilots in Canada is dead. And the 20% rule is not a coincidence. Operation maintained. No cancelled vacations. Politicians can sleep soundly at night not worried that there will be angry constituents protesting outside their doors. Just a few disgruntled SW pilots...

I am just guessing but the outcome may have placed a constraint on the amount of added capacity planned for SWG for the coming winter but it certainly did not trigger mass advance cancellations. SWG has been adding capacity on a fairly agressive basis and may have to examine other means to continue at that pace. I am not aware that there is any embargo in the UNIFOR agreement that precludes SWG from sourcing additional seasonal lift domestically (i.e. CanJet/EnerJet).

I am fairly certain that this issue will move up the priority list in the SW/UNIFOR negots.
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