Air Canada: First Dreamliner Touches Down, Union Opposes Outsourcing Three Routes

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 20, 2014 2:49 PM EST

Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at Pearson International Airport in Toronto May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris
Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at Pearson International Airport in Toronto May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris

Air Canada has received its very first 251-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner over the weekend. Air Canada has ordered a total of 37 of the new passenger jets. It will be used to open a route between Toronto and Haneda airport in Tokyo starting July.

Its arrival however faced strong disgust after the company's union representing some of its employees learned Air Canada will outsource two jets and staff to a foreign airline due to manufacturing delays experienced with the new planes.

On Friday, staff received a memo from management saying the company will replace flights to Madrid, Lima and Bogota with so-called "wet leases" - airplanes from EuroAtlantic Airways that come with foreign flight attendants and pilots.

"This was such a slap in the face. We were so disappointed Friday, especially when we were planning to go to this event. The 787 for us is the future of Air Canada, we've been waiting for this aircraft for years," Michel Cournoyer, president of CUPE's airline division, said.

"It's a shame that Air Canada, our national carrier, is outsourcing to foreign workers. Jobs should rightfully belong to Canadians. Now it's a very slippery slope. What's going to happen in the future?" Cournoyer added.

Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada spokesman, said the wet-lease decision was the only best option.

"We looked at using Rouge aircraft, but the Rouge aircraft are all full. There's a big demand for where they're going this summer, so we couldn't use those," Fitzpatrick told Star at the landing event for the 787.

"We also looked at using different airplanes with our own crews. Unfortunately that wouldn't work either because there was nothing available."

He also said the plan will be implemented only for just the very short term, at most "it's only going to be six weeks for the summer."

"This is not a decision we came to lightly but our first priority must be to our customers who have placed their faith in us to get them reliably and safely to the destinations of their choice," the management memo said.

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Air Canada's Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at Pearson International Airport in Toronto May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris
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