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Atlantic Canada aviation workers call for government plan to restart industry

Click to play video 'Atlantic aviation workers call for ‘safe restart’ of sector' Atlantic aviation workers call for ‘safe restart’ of sector
WATCH: Aviation sector workers in Atlantic Canada say thousands of industry jobs have been furloughed since March and they want to see a government strategy implemented to move ahead with a safe reopening. Alexa MacLean reports – Nov 9, 2020

Dozens of aviation sector workers gathered in Halifax on Monday, calling for the provincial and federal government to implement a strategy to safely reopen the bulk of industry.

“We’ve seen over a 90 per cent drop in passenger revenues. What this means is aviation workers such as you and I, are struggling to simply pay their bills and put food on their tables,” said Ed Hepburn, the chair of the Atlantic International Association of Machinists and Aerospace.

Read more: Ottawa won’t support Canadian airlines unless they issue refunds to passengers: Garneau

“We need a science based, safe plan for rapid testing resumption of flying in this country,” Hepburn told the crowd of masked workers and their supporters.

“We need this plan yesterday, not in eight more months,”

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Amy Burry
Amy Burry is a flight dispatcher who has been furloughed for months. She says the government needs to implement a strategy to safely restart the aviation sector. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Thousands of aviation sector workers have been furloughed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air Canada reported an 88-per cent decline in passenger revenue in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Air Canada reports that the steep loss in passengers led to a third quarter operating loss of $785 million in the third quarter of 2020.

For workers impacted by the continued slump in air travel revenue, the ongoing decline in the industry has left them demanding a concrete plan from government.

Read more: Canadian air traffic control firm slashing jobs as coronavirus hammers aviation industry

“The goal must be to facilitate a rapid recovery for the airline industry and the Canadian economy,” Linda MacNeil, Atlantic area director with Unifor, told the assembled.

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On Sunday, federal transport minister, Marc Garneau, said Ottawa is working on a plan to help support the airline industry but that’s contingent on passengers receiving refunds from carriers.

“Before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure Canadians get their refunds,” Garneau said.

“We will ensure Canadians and regional communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada.”

Meanwhile, furloughed workers, like flight dispatcher Amy Burry, continue to put pressure onto government officials to formally announce a restart plan rooted in safety.

“We want to get back to work, it’s been seven months,” Burry said.

Click to play video 'The future of Canada’s aviation industry' The future of Canada’s aviation industry
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