Air Canada back to normal Saturday after pilots strike

Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:05pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - Air Canada said it expects to resume normal operations on Saturday, after a labor board declared a strike by pilots at the country's biggest airline as illegal.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board ordered the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) "to take all reasonable steps to bring to an end the illegal strike" and to require all participating pilots to "immediately return to work," the carrier said late Friday.

Air Canada canceled about 75 flights on Friday because of an "illegal job action" by some of its pilots, the airline said in a statement.

Air Canada's dispute involves two of its key unions, including the one representing its 3,000 pilots.

Earlier this week, it said in a letter to the pilots' union that a number of pilots had planned to book off sick on Friday, although they were fit to fly.

ACPA President Paul Strachan said the union will comply with any labor board decision. But he warned that pilots are fed up.

"We all need to be very cognizant of the real risk that, at some point, the pilots will feel so beaten down and so helpless that they're going to lash back and not even this organization is going to be able to control the outcome of events," he said.

"I think we have the ear of most of them, still the vast majority of them. But I think there's a growing frustration among them that it's a hopeless situation, they feel like cattle being herded into the killing yards."   Continued...

Passengers walk past Air Canada planes on the runway at Pearson International Airport in Toronto April 13, 2012. Air Canada canceled at least 30 flights on Friday after what it called an "illegal job action" by some of its pilots, the latest example of tense labor relations at the country's biggest airline. The carrier, in a heated dispute with two of its key unions, including the one representing its 3,000 pilots, said it was exploring its options to deal with the disruption, which came after pilots reportedly called in sick even though they were fit to fly. REUTERS/Mike Cassese