Canadian flight attendants demand ground pay, citing airport delays

Air Canada planes are parked at Toronto Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada April 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

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MONTREAL, May 12 (Reuters) – Canadian flight attendants are demanding pay for ground and in-flight time as they recently faced delays, sometimes hours, at the country’s busiest airport due to staff shortages, health checks and rising traffic.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says its members are increasingly working for free as some arriving planes are held up at the gate of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, in some cases for up to three time.

US flight attendants in contract talks with carriers like American Airlines are also looking to get paid when boarding.

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Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said it will start paying flight attendants when boarding passengers from June 2.

Cabin crew demands could put additional cost pressures on airlines recovering from the pandemic-induced drop in traffic.

Although Air Canada flight attendants aren’t in contract talks, delays in Toronto are reducing rest times, said Wesley Lesosky, president of CUPE’s airline division.

Lesosky said flight attendants are now worried about the busy summer travel season if delays persist. “As we move into summer, our concern is the cabin temperature and just people getting unruly.”

CUPE represents about 15,000 flight attendants at nine airlines, including Air Canada (AC.TO).

Last week, 7,000 travelers waited more than 90 minutes on planes, Toronto business leaders, including the region’s chamber of commerce, said Thursday.

“Almost 50% of all arriving international passengers, or 100,000 people, were delayed last week, an increase of 20% over the past two weeks,” the groups said in a statement.

Flight attendants receive their full pay in the air which typically stops 15 minutes after arriving at the gate, Lesosky said.

Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, was not immediately available for comment.

Canada’s transport minister’s office said it was working with industry to reduce delays.

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Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal. Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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