Canada exempts small airlines from pilot fatigue rules after lobbying

Mon Aug 10, 2015 5:26pm EDT
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO Aug 10 (Reuters) - Canada's transportation regulator has made smaller carriers exempt for now from long-delayed rules on pilot fatigue, handing a partial victory to the airline industry after intense lobbying, and frustrating a major pilots' union.

In a filing with the federal register, Canada Gazette, on Saturday, Transport Canada said it plans to cap duty time at nine to 13 hours depending on when shifts start, down from 14 hours, among other scheduling limits.

But it restricted the changes to bigger airlines, in contrast with a September draft that would have applied to the whole industry. It pledged to issue rules for the smaller carriers soon, but gave no further details.

With a federal election scheduled for October, it is not clear what will happen to the plan, in the works since 2010, which was meant to bring Canada in line with international safety standards.

"We should be talking about implementation right now," said Dan Adamus, president of the Air Line Pilots Association's Canadian board. "We are extremely, extremely disappointed."

Transport Canada said it determined that the new rules would have more of an impact on smaller operators: "The introduction of the proposed changes in two phases would give smaller carriers more time to make the operational changes needed to meet the requirements."

John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, was pleased with what he sees as a change of course from Transport Canada. He said the draft proposal had been too heavily influenced by pilots' unions.

McKenna, whose members include most Canadian airlines, but not top carriers Air Canada or WestJet Airlines Ltd , said his group lobbied Transport Minister Lisa Raitt after the draft was published, saying new rules could raise operating costs by up to 30 percent.   Continued...