Sunwing, a Canadian low-cost carrier, has been accused of’shortchanging’ pilots by refusing to pay them while they are still on the job and on board planes.
Sunwing has an internal safety regulation that prohibits passengers from entering an aircraft without the presence of the pilots, and the same rule applies once the plane has arrived at its destination: pilots must wait until all passengers have departed before departing.
Sunwing, on the other hand, is said to have instructed pilots that it will no longer compensate them if customers are detained on planes for hours at a time owing to lengthy and inconvenient delays at Canadian airports, particularly Toronto Pearson, where the airline is based.
“If pilots are onboard, they’re working and they deserve to be paid,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President which represents Sunwing pilots.
A massive spike in travel demand, combined with labor shortages, has put enormous strain on Canada’s airports. Because of mandated pandemic paperwork inspections at the border, the challenges and delays have been significantly greater for arriving travelers from international destinations.
The average processing time per passenger at Toronto Pearson airport has climbed from a maximum of 30 seconds to as much as 2.30 minutes, according to estimates.
To avoid unsafe congestion, the Canada Border Services Agency has ordered passengers to remain on board until the immigration queue has cleared.
The situation is particularly bad in the late afternoon and evening rush hours.
“It’s a problem for passengers and airline staff alike. Aircraft are not lounges. They’re built to transport, not host hundreds of passengers during delays beyond their control,” Doherty commented.
“Weary passengers have a right to be frustrated, but it has resulted in irate passengers arguing and yelling at flight attendants and physical assaults, which puts everyone at risk.”
To make matters worse, Doherty claims that Sunwing will no longer pay pilots who need to be on the ground during these delays.
Sunwing, according to the union, is the only Canadian airline that does not pay pilots during these’metering holds,’ as they are known in the industry. Long-haul pilots are often obliged to be onboard with passengers at other carriers, although short-haul pilots are not.
The bottlenecks aren’t anticipated to disappear anytime soon, and they may even worsen during the peak summer months.