Canadian Airlines Plus - In the news ... labour problems brewing?
Mar 18, 00, 6:29 pm
From the looks of things, the CP restructuring is going well. An article yesterday in the Edmonton Journal reported that about 80% of the debt restructuring is complete, and that the remaining 20% of the creditors should be on board within a month. Meanwhile, CP is expected to be breaking even or even turning a small profit by late summer. The expected savings from the merger may be bigger than initially expected.
Not completely related, but today's newspaper had an article regarding the labour situation at AC and CP. With the merger, they will have to combine the seniority lists (mostly FA's and ground staff). This is big trouble brewing. Empress, I think this relates to your question on the AC board about why they are hiring so many new staff.
AC employees want CP employees put at the bottom of the list. This is understandable as AC employees tend to be newer than their CP counterparts. I can see them wanting to cover their own butts and I understand why. Miltoncorp is consistently looking for the "shareholder value" and the "bottom line" and wouldn't think twice about screwing over their employees if it meant more profit. If AC employees get their wish, it pushes the more senior CP employees to the bottom and they will be the ones who are laid off first, etc. It is obvious that Miltoncorp head brass would prefer this. AC has hired something like 2500 new staff in the last 5 years, while CP has hired only 300 or so in the last 10.
If the seniority lists were merged by date of hiring, then it looks like 60% of AC staff will end up at the bottom of the pile and the first to be cut (should that ever come to be). This is, IMO, a more correct way of merging the lists, but the situation is not pretty either way they do it in the end.
It was emphasized that the labour/seniorty issue is the last major sticking point before AC and CP can complete the merger. Until then, they are run as mostly separate operations.
Now with AC hiring lots of new staff, this would help AC employees out-vote CP employees by numbers alone. AC staff would of course push to have CP staff put at the bottom of the list. This effectively dilutes the mean seniority level as cuts take place. Miltoncorp brass couldn't be happier. Reduced labour costs by "divide and conquer" method. The union divides itself.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/mad.gif Cynical FewMiles..
(no offense to any lurking AC employees)
Mar 18, 00, 6:58 pm
Arbitration will, based on precidence, give CP employees their seniority within AC, I have no doubt of that. AC's FAs are likely to be most upset by this, since they (being younger) will not get much chance to bid on choice routes when the carriers are fully merged. That's probably just as well, because I found many of the younger FAs on AC rather indifferent in their service (I know one should not generalize, but it happened too many times. Older FAs had a better attitude.) The number of employees has nothing to do with it, they are not the ones who decide. Even the union and company loose control of the decision if it goes to arbitration. It is Labour Canada that has the final say so.
Mar 18, 00, 7:43 pm
Actually I thought CP employees were getting significantly less pay so don't see why laying off their senior personnel would necessarily be a savings. It seems they need the existing and new personnel and the CP personnel will actually be brought up to AC pay levels?
Mar 18, 00, 11:25 pm
I read the report in the Vancouver Sun today. There is trouble brewing. Apparently, employees of the two airlines are from the same union, but different locals. Neither party wants to back down and it looks like this one will be quite a war. Talk about a sibling rivalry!
Mar 18, 00, 11:55 pm
Heard on radio (AM 640) while driving yesterday in YYZ.
Someone from CP called in and talked about this, he said when they merge, CP will defintely get into the list 1 for 1 (not on the bottom). He cited that it will probably go to arbitration which mean CP will win because based on past mergers, all senority list are combined 1 for 1. He keeps saying that Milton & friends promised no layoffs and how nice of a guy he is, he just doesn't want to get into trouble for saying anything about his soon to be new boss... I just feel very disappointed that no one ever talk about all the kind things Benson did but instead relate him to CP going down and losing money. After reading that letter Benson wrote to his employees, it made me hate Milton & friends that much more and love Benson so much more...
With the hiring AC is doing now, they will have almost triple amount FAs by the time they merge and it just doesn't make sense. Even with all the expansion, they don't need that many FAs. Defintely something is going on.
Mar 19, 00, 1:33 am
Bad news indeed. I too read the article in today's Vancouver Sun, while flying to Chicago. This has the potential to make all our previous problems/complaints pale in comparison.
In my observations of labour relations, the only thing worse than serious animosity between employers and unions, is serious animosity between groups of employees. Seems that no matter what management does or decides, it only makes things worse, as one way or another, they will be seen as 'siding' with one group the other. I think the best thing they can hope for is the unions to force arbitration, and claim they've washed their hands of it.
Combined with the fact that for all intents and purposes, airline employees will not be allowed to strike, I foresee a time when employee attitudes are, well, scary. Might be a year or two down the road, but I'm sure it's coming.
Mar 19, 00, 10:59 am
With two locals of the same union representing the two groups, this will indeed be a messy situation. I agree with you that say the one-to-one type merger of the seniority lists will be the eventual outcome.
KH: I think you are quite right about management wanting to let this be forced into arbitration. It not only keeps them free of suggestions that they are taking sides, but it also allows them to let the two groups of employees continue to fight each other.
If and when the airlines are truly merged, what happens in the event of a labour disruption (lockout or strike, legal or illegal)? Air travel in this country will be crippled. The government will immediately use back-to-work legislation. Who gets hurt the most in this situation? I think not only the flying public, but the employees too. The potential of rising airfares seems minor in comparison.
I wonder what would have happened had AC FA's and other staff gone on strike last summer? Miltoncorp brass blinked that time, but now that competition is gone, do they care? They could lockout their employees now and then whenever they feel like cutting costs.
And this is exactly why AC isn't going to do anything that looks like a pseudo-merger any time soon. When you do that, your employees can bring an application to deem both companies as a common employer, and a renogotiation of the collective agreements.
Not a happy prospect to be forced into before you have the rest of your ducks in a row...
I have a slightly different take than FewMiles on a couple of points: 1) AC would probably prefer AC employees at the bottom--CP employees have very expensive layoff provisions, and would cost more if there are any involuntary separations (management-speak for layoffs). There are costs involved in merging the salary bands, but they are spead into your operation costs, rather than being extraordinary costs incurred in one shot.
2) Pilots are almost always the sticking point (Let's cast our collective minds back to the Wardair, PWA, EPA and Nordair absorbtions), and I think they will be again.
FA's can be more easily trained for new aircraft types, and although seniority lists are a problem, the company probably doesn't have to look to as many layoffs proportionally.
Pilots, on the other hand are expensive to keep (making layoffs more attractive), expensive to train (which is a big cost in fleet renewal), and the seniority lists make a lot of difference.
Since the 737's are very likely going to be dumped, or shifted to a low cost carrier; and since senior 737 driver's unlikely to want to move to discount carrier flying; this will mean very expensive retraining costs for the seniors staying and moving to new aircraft, and the juniors who are hired on by AC Lite.
IMO, the front runner compromise will be
"relative seniority". The lists are merged in such as way as the people retain the seniority in the new carrier as they held in their old seniority list. The FA who is 1/3 of the way down the seniority list winds up 1/3 of the way down the merged list.
The relative benefits go to juniors at AC and seniors at CP (since kilo for kilo the AC lists are both top and bottom heavy). This is annoying juniors at CP who have already given up much to help the airline, and now sense their positions in danger.
In my view, it is extremely unlikely that the company will go to a 1:1 list or to a date of hire list. Since AC's lists are longer, and include more recent hires, this leaves the bottom of the seniority ladder entirely composed of AC employees. I find it extremely unlikely that the AC bargaining units will give their union a mandate to negotiate this.
Check out http://www.acemployee.com
Mar 19, 00, 8:54 pm
According to news reports, pilots are not party to this dispute. It is FAs who are most upset by prospects of merging lists. Another issue will be pay scales, since AC's staff earns more than Cdn's (who have made many reductions in pay to keep the airline alive).
The government wouldn't legislate FAs (or pilots) back to work within a few days of them going out, they'd send them back a few days before.
Last year, they legislated the NavCanada employees back to work about 10 days before their strike date. (Of course Parliament wasn't going to be in session on the strike date, so they'd have had to cut their vacations, err working in their ridings, short).
And in the last post office strike (or did they go out? I don't remember), large customers were told not to worry, if the workers went out they'd be sent back. Months before. In the end, the legislation included setting their raise to less than management was offering. And the post office is about as unessential a service there is these days (at least among formerly essential services).
So once they merge (or maybe already), AC employees will not be allowed to strike.
1) While I agree that legislated restrictions on employment action are probable, I do not think that back to work legislation is a foregone conclusion in any job action.
The Government's action has to be predicted based on the legal and political situation. The Government owes Milton no favours. An election is likely in 2001, so the Government will be early in a mandate when these issues come up. I think the likelihood of back to work legislation would depend upon which bargaining unit you are looking at.
It is open to the Minister of Labour to designate certain services as essential (say, flights to communities in Canada not served by any other carrier), and for the employer to be required to designate essential employees for these operations. This puts the ball back in AC's court to pick and choose, rather than using a steamroller over employee's bargaining rights. It is a devious way of meeting public demand for basic services, while sticking it to AC management (who did not roll over and stick their paws in the air when the Minister told them to)
2) Indeed, pilots aren't part of the present slanging match. The present issue arises out of internal disputes within the unions that represents both AC and CP workers. (I think CUPE and IAMAW, but don't quote me), whereas AC and CP pilots have different bargaining units.
When the time comes to merge, however, both of those unions will be going head to head not only over the seniority issues, but also over which bargaining agent will continue to represent the pilots. The battle has the potential to make this dispute look like a tempest in a teapot.
Mar 23, 00, 11:38 am
Good day folks.....I have been a 'Lurker' for sometime know and I need to address some issues from an AC perspective.
I am one of the many who has no direct customer contact but my performance has a great impact on the customer. I love my job... I can sleep at night knowing I did my best!
Now to the labour issue, this is a very complex and delicate subject. I wish to offend no one, but I may step on some toes.
Yes AC employees want CP folks at the bottom of the list. There are issues of the younger work force our Balance Sheet was healthy before WE bought CP.(or were forced to). Uncle Miltie (as some like to hate him) has done so much for our airline. Streamling it over the past several years, becoming cost effective and trying to shed the Crown Corp image.
He has succeeded (for any busness folks out there I'm sure you agree this is a difficult task). Part of that cost cutting happened in the early 90's where thousands of us were laid off as AC downsized. (CP was hiring at that time) Well the trouble started brewing, AC tried the merger in the mid 90's with CP but it fell apart......At that time there were war cries from CP (yes we heard them).
AC walked away.
Now we are in the late 90's AC recalls all of its people (some were laid off for 4.5 years senority was adjusted), the company is doing great expanding at a rather fast pace....people are hired, the fleet is newer and cost efficient (oops there is that cost efficient thing).
Then a man named Gerry comes along. Backed by a government to find a solution to the problem. Well there was no problem at AC.
Gerry says that he is buying AC and CP. Oh lets create a monopoly with the governments
blessing. (my view is that a monopoly is a monopoly any way you look at it!)
Well the rest is history, Mr Benson states CP has enough cash for another year then it's bust (at this time the line up at employment center would be long) the government is pushing things through because we can't have the unemployment ....
Mr. Milton offers to buy the airline as an alternative to Gerry's monopoly... CP shareholders agree and tender thier shares.
CP's employees just had there jobs saved. To top it off they are also going to be on par in wages... to some that is a 20% increase in pay.
In conclusion I will have to say that people here believe that CP's employees just got another bail out without having to sacrifice alot. Wage freezes do not compare to layoffs.
The view of our people is that they have X amount of years at CP but none at AC so to the bottom they go.
I on the otherhand believe in arbitration and the process it's gonna take some give and take on both sides. Until then our focus is the job at hand.......getting our customers to their destinations.
Just a little bit on the contract... AC employees also have the job protection in our contract. The contract was renegotiated as onex was closing in. Duration 6 years
To answer your questions about all the hiring please allow me to answer.
AC is very short staffed at YYZ especially because of the steady growth. It is not uncommon for crews to have 10-12 flights in an 8 hour shift. Sales and inflight are also in staff shortages.
It is very common for crews to put in 16 hour duty days to handle the load.
There are duty time restrictions placed on flight crews which I am not familiar with but I'm sure they also have shortages.
Just my opinion.
Mar 23, 00, 12:41 pm
If there is a shortage of AC employees in YYZ, and CP has those well skilled and long term employees, what's the issue? They will be blended in and those with high seniority will likely take the buy-out, the others will be gone in 10-years when they hit retirement so AC employees will have the higher seniorities in the end.
You seem to have bought to corporate line lock, stock and key phrases. It isn't difficult to maintain market share when you've had a virtual monopoly for 30-years over 2/3rds of transcon flights, a cleaned up balance sheet before you were privatized, and many other benefits from the years as a Crown.
If anything you should thank Mr. Swartz for breaking the logjam that needed to be cleared so we could have a viable, competitive (on the international scene) Canadian carrier. You may not have liked it if he "won" the day, since you accepted everything Mr. Milton and company fed you, but would you have preferred to see Cdn Airlines fold? Do you enjoy seeing people who have spent their entire lives in a company out on the pogey: ask yourself the difference between finding a job at 20 or 30, and doing so at a decent wage if you are in your 40s or 50s with family and all that goes with mid-age. Their union and employer agreed to salary rollbacks rather than layoffs. AC staff could have had the same thing, but the unions balked at the idea and layoffs became to only option for AC.
If you had bought any AC stock when it came out, how could you not thank Mr. Swartz? Under Milton and his predecessors, the stock languished at between $4 and $6 after going on the market at $8. Today it is worth $16+ just as Mr. Swartz forecast. Have you heard of Celestica? That's a company Onex also took over, and anybody who worked there and had stock or stock options have done extremely well. It was a small IBM Canadian subsidiary prior to Onex, today it has a world mandate and manufacturers for that marketplace. And has grown and prospered accordingly. Might this not be the future for the new Air Canada.
What we have today -- like it or not -- is the result of Swartz and Onex. If his political friends were there to "fix" things, as you also insinuate, then the law would have been changed prior to the Quebec court case, and Onex would be in charge today. As it is, the real controlling shareholder of AC is the Quebec pension fund, which is a rather embarrassing situation for Canada's premier airline. And Mr. Milton and company remain unaccountable to anyone but themselves, which is the real issue that still needs to be addressed.
As my username suggests, I am an AC shareholder, and have done better than most, buying in and out and back in at the right moments. But going to shareholder meetings has always been a bit of a farce, since management isn't really accountable to us or anybody else but themselves. I also had shares in CP and tendered them to create a new Air Canada bringing the world the best of both our carriers.
(And as I disclosed when the debate started, I coincidentally also owned Onex shares. Yes, I had a multi-vested interest in this whole thing, aside from being a regular customer of Cdn because, frankly I had experienced far too much indifference from AC's "young" workforce. I've had some very good res agents, and people I knew here in YEG, but in the air it was another matter altogether. My roots with AC go back quite far because I worked my way through university as an AC rep and had a summer job for three years at YYZ res. But Cdn -- and CP before it -- won my business in recent years because they tried harder and proved to me they cared about me as a customer, on the ground and in the air.)
That said, I just don't know why you can't get on with the task of building a great airline, taking the best of both companies. I have heard your position expressed by machinists here in Edmonton as well. I don't think anybody's job is in jeopardy in the near term as the company grows. Why can't you AC guys be more human in your ultimate "victory". Why this scortched earth policy?
[This message has been edited by Shareholder (edited 03-23-2000).]
Mar 23, 00, 2:56 pm
Thanks for letting us hear your perspective as an AC employee, YYZAC. Everything you have said is understandable.
Your loyalty to your company is admirable, but the opinion of some of your fellow AC employees (not saying that you necessarily feel the same way) towards CP staff is, frankly, quite disagreeable.
Canada has been fortunate to have two great airlines competing intensely, each keeping the other on its toes. Many of us felt that CP won us over with better service (speaking for the CP flyers here), but in the end, AC won on the balance sheet. And that is what counts in the world of business.
So when an AC employee says "Our balance sheet was healthy until WE bought CP", it is clear that the AC vs. CP mentality is still very much there. YYZAC, you did not buy CP, but your company did. Now that that transaction is almost complete, CP and AC are essentially one. No longer should there be a CP vs AC issue, because in the greater scheme of things, the bigger AC will now have to compete even more strongly in the international market.
AC/CP employees focus must be on customer service. That is their job. The company brass's focus will be on shareholder value as always. That is their job. Somewhere down the line, there will come a time when the company wishes to trim costs by taking away some of your jobs. Putting "the other people" at the bottom of the list only weakens the position of the employees (whichever way it goes, be it CP people at the bottom, or AC).
You've also mentioned that in a way, CP staff were given a lifeline when your company bought out CP. Indeed they were--their jobs were saved, "without them having to sacrifice a lot". Is that not a good thing? What is it that AC employees feel they should now sacrifice? CP could have been left to perish on its own. Instead, you can bring together the best of both airlines. It is not a matter of what they "owe" you or AC for saving their jobs.
When AC bought CP, it did not just gain the priveledges of its fleet, infrastructure, routes, and market share, but also the responsibility for its debts, customers, and employees.
I must agree with Shareholder: Stand united with your fellow employees and build a new and great airline. Find a good compromise and accept it. We, the customers, are your real employer. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif
P.S. Any CP staff lurking out there? We'd like to hear from you.
There has been so much rhetoric from managment, government, the flying public and Canadians generally about airlines. Frankly, if it has got wings, Canadians are going to mess with it.
This has tended to entrench strong feelings about what a tremendous asset to Canada one carrier is, and what a tremendous embarassment the other is. If you are in Calgary, the shining knight was CP. If you are in Montreal, the great standard bearer is AC. The rhetoric is the same, only the names get changed.
FewMiles--all the sins are not on one side, what about those odious, "Better dead than red" remarks from CP employees?
Neither labour group has conducted themselves very well whenever merger issues have come up. CP employees need only cast their minds back as far as the Wardair/Nordair/EPA mergers. The employees from those four carriers have come together into one cohesive team. There is every reason to believe that AC and CP's employees will do the same--there are just going to be some frayed nerve and hurt feelings along the way.
Mar 23, 00, 8:52 pm
AC*SE: You are most correct in saying that the viewpoint taken by some CP employees is no better than that of their AC counterparts.
Now that the AC and CP are merged, it is time employees from both sides sit down and get to work.
The difference this time is that we are reducing the number of Canada-based international airlines from 2 to 1. The monopoly implications are of course a great concern to many and so the debates are that much more passionate.
Mar 24, 00, 9:01 am
Report in this morning's FINANCIAL POST that AC is renegging on retention bonuses promised by old Cdn board to senior execs and managers for staying on through the final months and into the transition. "Sue me" attitude seems to be the thrust of the story. Also a comment from Milton that he will let the other employees fight it out (seniority) inside the union, and it is not really a company issue. Focus here seems to be on the flight attendents. In other news, Cdn's new Calgary HQ will be shut down soon, though may become location of new regional operation.
Beautiful day here at YYZ.
Shareholder: Yes I have heard of Celestica.
Yes I am Aware of Onex and thier good deeds.
Gerry could have bought CP and nursed it back to life.... But he needed AC's bank account.
Now the topic of Seniority. That is a Union issue which we as individuals have to decide as a whole how we will handle intergration.
CP has their opinion, AC has thiers. (I'm sure the situation would be the same had the shoe been on the other foot)
As to the Layoffs we just got those .... no barganing. With CP thier employees became too expensive to layoff so over time it cost CP money, which it could not afford. Just to let you know AC was financially worse off in the early 90's then CP was.
As to the corperate line ..... Hmmmm What I have seen happen in the last 12 years since I have gained employment with AC is my basis for my opinion. NO I do not wish that any CP employee ever lose thier job and go through what I went through. The solution is not easy and like I said before there has to be give and take on BOTH sides.
Shareholder, I am also shareholder of this company over the years I have bought some and sold some. I remember pre-Onex about 1998 shares were at 15+ so really the price of shares were driven by the company profits. A year later Labour disruption happened and the stock tumbled. Yes profit takers bought the stock when Onex was there forcing an inflated stock price due to speculation.
Sir I have no beef with anyone, you like Ford
I work for GM.... Same quality differant Company.
My job is to ensure your flight begins and ends in a safe orderly fashion. That you recieve your bags at a certain time or that you depart at a certain time. If that is what you mean by 'Following the Company line' then yes I am guilty.
I Certainly hope that this is not a mud slinging match, because I'm not into that.
My intention was to let you folks understand what the situation is on the front lines. I know how the media loves to hate and really distorts the situation.
Good Day folks.:-)
[This message has been edited by YYZAC (edited 03-24-2000).]
Mar 24, 00, 9:46 am
Shareholder: Re: the "sue me" attitude. I fear that this is the attitude AC top brass will develop (some may say have developed) towards their employees. Milton must not get involved in the union dispute, so that he is not "taking sides", yet not getting involved is exactly what he wants--the unions to fight each other.
Mar 24, 00, 10:20 am
Fewmiles: I do have to agree with you there.
We do have to stick together but the hurdles we all face as a Union are great.
Also wanted to add that yes you are what makes my Airline Fly and I hope our relationship continues. If I fail please do not hesitate to inform me, but if I excede your expectations please let me know.
(The referance to WE bought: Meaning AC, not the union)
Good day! :-)
[This message has been edited by YYZAC (edited 03-24-2000).]
Mar 29, 00, 4:32 am
Forgive my delay in responding to this thread. I've been very busy travelling over the last few days, and more importantly, I wanted to think about my response for a day or two (or five.)
In any case, I feel compelled to respond to some of the claims made above. The first is this: Yes AC employees want CP folks at the bottom of the list. There are issues of the younger work force our Balance Sheet was healthy before WE bought CP.While AC's Balance Sheet may have been "healthy" certainly their Income Statements have not. That is reflected in the generally poor performance of the stock over the last 10 years or so. But more important in my view is how that Balance sheet came to be "healthy." According to another AC employee (are you out there, Sam?), based on information on the acemployee web page, AC received all of the following and more from taxpayers over the years:
Regular "true" subsidies from inception until at least 1962.
Loans of at least 2/3 of a billion dollars (in pre-1988 dollars), on which they paid (by the most generous calculations) no more than .64% interest per year.
Other "effective" subsidies from inception until at least 1993, and perhaps beyond, including:
- debts of $329 million in 1977 dollars forgiven
- "free" hangers and other infrastructure
- $246 million in 1988 dollars from the first public offering of AC shares
- financial assistance with certain operating costs
- government backed non-repayable loans of $336 million.
I'd add that they also received government mandated monopoly privileges for half a century, and even some control over their competitors, particularly in route selection.
Of course, all of these subsidies came at the expense of the taxpayer, and more importantly for this discussion, at the expense of private industry. And while these subsidies are now at least 6 or 7 years old, there can be no denying the fact that more than half a century of profound legislated advantage gives one competitor a huge advantage over the others; in name recognition, in infrastructure and route development, in brand development, and asset building. Given the huge head start they had out of the starting blocks a decade ago, it's no wonder AC has a "healthy" balance sheet. I'd suggest the only way AC's balance sheet couldn't be healthy now would be due to gross negligence or fraud.
If one were to tally all of the subsidies that Air Canada received over the last 60 years, indexed to 1999/2000 dollars, I'm pretty sure it would be several times the current net worth of the airline. And if CP (or for that matter, Canada 3000) were to receive that same kind of government support, Air Canada would be a long forgotten memory sometime about next Saturday.
...WE bought CP. (or were forced to).No one "forced" AC to bid for CP shares. And given that the federal government imposed many conditions on the take-over, to which Milton only reluctantly agreed under pressure (and now seems intent upon reneging on), this claim seems absurd on the face of it.
Uncle Miltie (as some like to hate him) has done so much for our airline. Streamling it over the past several years, becoming cost effective and trying to shed the Crown Corp image. First of all, I don't hate him, but I don't have any respect for him. Frankly, as best I can tell, he just has good PR talents, and a huge ego. I think he's now taking credit for the efforts of others, and as far as the Onex/CP dealings go, he seemed to just stand around nervously, then pick up the pieces that luckily landed around him. I've yet to see anything from him that impresses me. His current bravado in front of western CoC's only reinforces that belief.
...trying to shed the Crown Corp image. I'd suggest that he (and others) have been less than totally successful. While there are no doubt many decent, dedicated, and helpful AC employees, there still seems to be a disproportionate number of "civil servants." While us elites are generally insulated from them, most of the travelling public is not.
As recently as February, when I was helping my mother check in for an AC flight, the agent was boorish in the extreme, and to all comers. When my mother offered to be voluntarily bumped off the flight given that it appeared to be oversold, the agent promptly began giving her a loud dressing down about how she had no elite status whatsoever, so she had no business asking for an upgrade. It wasn't until I stepped over the ropes and loudly threatened the agent with a supervisor that the agent backed down. When my mother re-explained that she was offering to give up her seat, the agent apologized and explained that she was so used to dealing with passengers who asked for upgrades, when they had no business doing so. And given the difficulties that even some AC Super Elites had asking for upgrades in February, this incident doesn't look out of character.
AC tried the merger in the mid 90's with CP but it fell apart......At that time there were war cries from CP (yes we heard them). Given that in the "mid 90's" CP was in about the same shape as it was in 1999, any "war cries" from CP would have been pretty hollow. And I give AC management at least enough credit to know that.
the fleet is newer and cost efficient (oops there is that cost efficient thing). This rather condescending statement is indicative of the customer service attitudes of a lot of airline employees and management, both in Canada and the US. It's the alternatively patronizing attitude, set off against the belief that airline passengers should feel they are being well treated, simply because the airline says it's so. I'm convinced it's the source of a lot of air rage. (BTW, we all know what "cost efficient" means, and why it is important.)
Then a man named Gerry comes along. Backed by a government to find a solution to the problem. Well there was no problem at AC. the government is pushing things through because we can't have the unemploymentAs explained by someone else, this claim is demonstrably nonsense. If Onex had government backing, then Onex would be in charge now, guaranteed. If there were no problems at AC, why did they lose so much money over the last decade? And can you give me even a single instance, example or evidence of the "government... pushing things through"?
And the statement "Then a man named Gerry comes along" sounds intentionally very disrespectful and condescending. It's the kind of "civil service" attitude that many of us have come to expect from Air Canada.
In conclusion I will have to say that people here believe that CP's employees just got another bail out without having to sacrifice alot.Clearly, if it wasn't in Air Canada's interest, they would not have purchased CP. And I'm curious about the other previous "bail outs" you allude to, especially the ones where they didn't have to "sacrifice alot." Believing it doesn't make it so.
Mr. Milton offers to buy the airline as an alternative to Gerry's monopoly... CP shareholders agree and tender thier shares.CP shareholders first enthusiastically agreed to Onex's offer. It wasn't until the government legislated protection of AC's management put the kibosh on the Onex offer that CP shareholder's reluctantly agreed to the AC offer. Which brings up yet another profound legislated advantage that AC has over its competitors -- a government mandated poison pill, in the form of the 10% ownership cap. That combined with the anti-competitive 25%/33% cap on foreign ownership (on all airlines) made it impossible for AA to increase its holdings in CP, and impossible for Onex (or anyone else) to get a real stake in AC.
The view of our people is that they have X amount of years at CP but none at AC so to the bottom they go.It's fortunate then, that our's is a system of law, not might.
Now, on to the most important issue, in the following post...
[This message has been edited by Ken hAAmer (edited 03-29-2000).]
Mar 29, 00, 4:57 am
Uncle Miltie (as some like to hate him) has done so much for our airlineTo be blunt, as a passenger, I don't really give a rat's *ss what Milton has done for the airline. I only care about what's been done for me, the passenger, and to a lesser degree, what he's done for employees, as that may well affect what the employees do for me. All I've ever heard Milton talk about is shareholders. The February 10th newsletter to employees is a good example. (It's the one about his dog and pony show for Goldman Sachs.) You'll notice that he goes on at some length about how everything he is doing is so good for the investment community. He also makes passing suggestion that anything that is good for investors is good for employees. But nary a word about passengers.
And that's what it all comes down to. Last year, in advertisements, in news reports and sound bites, and in promises to government, Milton/AC repeatedly promised that a take-over would be good for Canadians. But now that the take-over is a fait accompli, he seems to have forgotten that passengers even exist.
So here's a challenge -- what's changed for passengers, particularly frequent flying elites, in those last several months? Here's my list, and an open challenge to any and all to add to it, pro or con:
Silly things that are better:
-SW stickers are now shiny bright blue, instead of that boring old grey.
-You get fewer stickers, meaning less weight to drag through airports.
-Easier meal selections, because you have fewer choices.
-No risk of choking on candies upon landing.
Clearly, you can come up with a lot of these, but they don't really mean anything.
Things that are allegedly better, but mean nothing to me, and probably a lot of others:
-Direct flights from city A to city B -- CP/AA/BA/CX already flew everywhere in the world I ever needed to be. And even if I did have to fly from Kelowna to Toronto, it was easily done, albeit through Vancouver. 'Course, that just means more segments, miles, and a chance to hang out in the really cool YVR Empress Lounge.
-Access to AC (and eventually ratS Alliance) lounges -- I already have access to all the lounges I could ever need, including the unsurpassed BA first class lounges, and the new AA Flagship Lounges, that make your average RCC lounge feel like the boarding area.
-Reciprocal reward, upgrade, and miles on AC -- given recent claims about the difficulty of getting rewards and upgrades on either AC or CP, this claim is very suspect. Besides, I never had a problem getting either and award or upgrade on CP. I understand our AC colleagues have had similar experience.
-Frequent flights on routes like YVR-YYZ -- they were already frequent enough for myself and everyone else I know. Did you ever hear anyone complain that they weren't enough flights, on either airline?
Things that are worse:
-Fewer upgrade stickers
-Fewer upgrade seats
-Fewer upgradable fares
-Increase of 15,000 miles for top tier qualification
-1999 stickers not being honestly honoured
-Many more people being bumped
-Fewer web specials, and higher fares
-Cutbacks in meal service
-Cutbacks in passenger service (i.e. pre-flight beverage)
-Massive increases in awards costs to places like Africa and the Middle East
-Apparently no ability to upgrade on flights with in the US after June 1
-No waitlisting or queuing of upgrade requests
-Reduced baggage allowances
-Tier status only from March 1 of following year, instead of immediately upon qualification
-Moving from YYZ T3 to T1
-Inability to purchase upgrades
-All stickers on one page, requiring you to carry all of them, and if you lose one, you lose them all. You also can't easily share them with colleagues.
-Elimination of guaranteed Business Class awards for second tier members
-Elimination of Ultimate upgrades
I'm sure there are more, lots more. But I'm tired, and this is depressing. I'll leave it to others to fill out the rest.
And finally, Things that are better:
So it comes to this...
Until then our focus is the job at hand.......getting our customers to their destinations.I've already arrived at my destination. That destination is American Airlines.
[This message has been edited by Ken hAAmer (edited 03-29-2000).]
Mar 29, 00, 5:26 am
Wow...Ken...you are one bitter dude!
I admit that things are slowly eroding as far as passenger benefits...but atleast we have a long way to go before we get to the levels of US carriers!
Ken's post just goes to show--you can rationalize any prejudice you hold.
I sympathize with CP customers who feel that they are losing their preferred carrier. I also sypathize with AC customers who do not care to fly with CP (and they do exist). Bitterness should not cloud objectivity, however.
To rebut Ken's assertions, I offer a few observations of my own.
1) Yes, AC had an equity advantage to start. But AC has been paying CP's mortgage ever since.
AC has been consistently denied access to new markets outside of North America, whereas CP has not (to my knowledge) been denied any route authorities in the last 15 years. CP got to keep monopolies over NRT and HKG, at the same time as they were given access to LHR and CDG. AC was denied access to SHA, which they were prepared to serve with their own aircraft, to protect CP, who had no way to serve it at all.
To keep AC out of MNL, CP cut service to BKK, winding up underserving both cities.
When AC finally got authorities to HKG, they were given 4 slots--as compared with CP's 10 or CX's 21. To add insult to injury, AC was kept out a further year (probably so that the Executive First product would not compete with CP's old business class). When AC was awarded YYZHKG, the Government failed to renogotiate the Canada-Hong Kong bilateral air service agreement, leaving AC with a route authority that they could not operate. Those frequencies were only provided this month.
It seems to me that the Government has had a preferred carrier policy for the last 16 years, and that carrier has been CP.
2) CP is, in many ways, the author of its own misfortune. They adopted a strategy to be a flag carrier, and try and beat AC head to head, in all markets. I can't help but think that this was fundamentally misguided (though perhaps that is with the benefit of hindsight).
To pursue this strategy, CP took a punitive hit absorbing Wardair. They acquired a lot of long term debt, useless aircraft (to CP), and a lot of labour strife. The only positive things that they gained were access to LHR and CDG, and keeping AC from acquiried Wardair. This merely compounded the pre-existing woes of the acquisitions of EPA and Nordair which allowed PWA to step in in the first place.
CP have never recovered from that mistake. To stave off the wolves (at AC) they invited in AA. This proved, in my view, to be the last nail in the coffin. AA siphoned off far more cash from CP than they ever injected. The loss of profit from Gemini, combined with the costs of using Sabre alone probably drained the equity injection.
AA acquired enormous rights over company restructuring which prevented CP from finding any other solution to their problems. Finally, when it was too late, and AA washed their hands of it.
3) Yes, there are many cutbacks in service, and I regret their loss. But let's be frank. How long could CP have kept it up? I'm with Dorian--I'll choose AC/CP over any US carrier, any day of the week. I might be in a minority, but I would probably choose AC/CP over any Asian carrier as well.
4) You may not give a flying http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/redface.gif about what Milton has done for shareholders, the company and the employees, but I do. I've seen the industry from all sides--I am the child of a retired airline employee, I have been an employee myself, I am a shareholder, and I am a customer. Management must cater to all of these interests, balancing one against the other for the long term health of the company.
Milton has accomplished what Taylor, Jeanniot, and Harris all failed to do. Maybe it was more through good luck than good management, but I suspect it was a combination of the two.
Finally, if anyone is to blame for the current situation in Canada, I feel it is AA. They kept CP confined to one vision for years, despite abundant evidence that it was a flawed vision. When that strategy failed they tried to take over the competition. When that failed, they abandoned CP to her fate.
Mar 29, 00, 8:47 am
AC....Once again just terrific insights! I like the way you use specific examples to support your opinions and ideas. Kudos...
Mar 29, 00, 11:06 am
I'm also sorry for not being here to defend myself(as it seems I must???). I've been working alot of double shifts lately.
Ken Haammer, Please for give me! I never thought that the Mapleleaf was that revolting to you. Seems AC*SE is right, you can justify anything. If AA is your cake, Well sir then buy that cake. In this country we do have the freedom to choose. What I do not understand is that if Onex would have taken over there would have been a monopoly also , would that have been a better one?
Just one question? Did AC loose your bags?
I have never seen anyone as bitter as you.
Either way sir I will continue to do my best for all who fly with AC. When I was a manager in an unrealated company (this was when I was laid off from AC for 4.5 years) I found a Japanese concept which I abide by as a professional. Kaizan , Rough translation 'constant improvement'(try it). I know there is always room to improve and my service to you always will. Like I have said, If I do a bad job please inform me. If I excede and provide you with exceptional service also let me know, so that I may improve on it.
Ken Haamer, I am also a human being who has to provide for my family. If you are saying that I should step aside and allow someone to take my job sir you are very mistaken I like you will defend my livelyhood. I just happen to give a RAT's *SS as to what the company becomes. Sir as a decent human I'm sure you are compassionate and personable but like you said, you are in it for yourself. If you charge at people like a raging bull then expect a return reaction. As for the unfortunate instance with your mother, NEXT time call the manager. I would not let anyone talk to my mother in that type of tone.
I hope that one day you will just try us and give us a chance. You might just like it.
Hey it's only paint! People do change and all those familiar faces at CP will always be around to serve your needs.
P.S. thanks AC*SE
Still Chuckling over that Mapleflot comment... No way near sir, AC's service excedes the implied airlines service(I just happen to know).
I have been following the strings in both the CP and AC sites and can't help but feel sad about what it seems to be coming to.
As a CP employee of nearly 12 years, I have watched and listened to the bitterness that surrounds various individuals from both airlines. I do stress individuals. There are many CP employees, as well as many of my AC friends who are looking forward to building one of the best airlines in the world.
With some of the comments I see, it does appear that there are many things that our most frequent and dedicated flyers look for and miss now, with the rationalization of the airlines in Canada.
As I've read, some of you do see the cost rationalization involved in this process. Others, not so readily. But regardless, some of these must happen. Others, I myself would like to see remain.
Both AC and CP have been leading airlines in customer service. Albeit, it can never be perfect 100% of the time. But we certainly aspire to it.
As to the impending merger, and yes, it will eventually lead to a full merger, I plan to work just as hard as I have in the past. Not only with and for CP, but along with and for my colleagues at AC. I hold no animosity towards anyone, but do feel sorry for those carry bitterness with them and try to instill it in others.
We are a combination of leading carriers in the world, and if we wish to remain as such, we must work together and throw our bitterness aside. By carrying this on our backs, it will only affect the customers within these pages. We do not want to lose you because of our childish spats. I only ask that we continue to serve our customers in the best way we can.
I also ask our customers to continue their comments, not only on these pages, but to the airlines management as well. If we can improve in our service to you, it is your voice that will bring it back. If we do improve, please let us know that to.
And finally, YYZAC, please remember, in order for us to succeed, we must work as a team. Bitter enemies will not keep our flying customers on either airline.
Mar 29, 00, 3:26 pm
I support Ken's comments 200%...
Mar 29, 00, 3:28 pm
I support Ken's comments 200%...
Mar 29, 00, 3:31 pm
I support Ken's comments 200%...
Mar 29, 00, 10:02 pm
CPYVR yes I agree, the comments I have made here are for debate which is healthy. I wish that all folks would not see us as AC vs CP or vice versa but as a national CANADAIN airline. There are many people and many opinions, I know that Intergration is going to happen whether we want it or not.
I have chosen this profesion by choice as I'm sure you have also. My focus at work is as have stated before my flights, safty, my people and most important our customers.
I think that I have stubbed a couple of toes with my comments but I have always said it like I see things.
I think these forums are a great place for debate and a place to share information. It should continue but at times I am 'Devil's advocate' pointing out another view. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/biggrin.gif
There have been comments made that really do bring out the true person. I do not know these people but they do contribute to business which means you and I have jobs which we do enjoy. It's up to us to change the face, shed the rivalry (which is not going to be easy) In my case the 'Civil Service' persona which people do conveniently tack onto AC employees.
I do apologize if I have offened some, but reality is still out there. Individuals can't change things but alot of people can.
Just finished a pleasant day today.
See ya all tomorrow
Mar 31, 00, 3:41 pm
Well said, Ken. Sorry, but sitting here in AC's MLL in YUL I am considering the 7-1/2 hours I've just spent in ExecFirst as an example of how bad things have gotten on AC. Yes, it was a spanking 3-month old 330 (the flight out to LHR was on a 340), and the pilot with whom I spent a half-hour was rightly proud of his plane. But in the back things were quite different:
Coats not hung up and had to be put in overheads
No overheads in the centre, so everything had to be put in the side overheads, meaning very little space
No room under the seat in front because it was blocked by something resembling a black box
No amenity kits (in either direction)
No tooth brushes in washrooms
No razors in washrooms (on flight over)
No socks on return flight
Had to request Canadian wines be poured as part of meal service
The best thing I can say is that the LHR Arrivals Lounge is an oasis worthy of a visit, since they could supply razors and tooth brushes (as well as a shower...)
Next week I will see what AC has done to the international CP service to and from LHR.
This does not strike me as creating a world class airline, blending the best of both carriers. It is removing the special things that made each special enough to have a chararacter that made us love or hate them.
And, oh yes, in the Empress Lounges, the computer links to the internet are dedicated high speed ones. In the MLL they appear to be 56K slow lines that have to be reconnected every time you want to send a message to this bulletin board!
Empress, better delete one of your replies -- you're supporting Ken 300%!
Do the 330s lack centre bins in economy too? If so that will be awful! (Except there's space under seats, which no one ever uses except me, and the 767 side bins are particularly inefficient).
Mar 31, 00, 4:38 pm
Coats not hung up and had to be put in overheads--sounds fishy to me--they have always taken my coat (I never put anything valuable in the pockets anyway)
No overheads in the centre, so everything had to be put in the side overheads, meaning very little space -- that is a problem with the plane not AC--I have never had problems with space, even on full flights (A340--I presume pretty much the same for A330 as my mom just flew in J and had no complaints YYZ-LHR)
No room under the seat in front because it was blocked by something resembling a black box--again not an AC problem but an airplane problem--many people say they like the electric seats but I think the motors are a waste of space. I am fully capable of manually extending things (less breakdowns too).
No amenity kits (in either direction) -- I always thought these were a waste. I'd much prefer to have a gift (like Rudi's Teuscher chocolates)
No tooth brushes in washrooms -- I always have my "kit" with me in the cabin so no big deal
No razors in washrooms (on flight over) - ditto
No socks on return flight -- I never use the dam* things (but my mother does).
Had to request Canadian wines be poured as part of meal service--AC got a best wine for North American carrier, probably not by serving Canadian wine too much (although I agree we have to wave the flag and make our wines available I am not a big fan of most Canadian wines)
The best thing I can say is that the LHR Arrivals Lounge is an oasis worthy of a visit, since they could supply razors and tooth brushes (as well as a shower...)--have to agree, arrivals is a huge bonus after a transoceanic flight.
Empress Lounges, the computer links to the internet are dedicated high speed ones--hasn't been my experience with Empress lounges but I have only been in Edmonton, Toronto and Calgary. I thought YYZ Empress lounge computers were as slow as Calgary. I agree in this day and age though that there should be high speed access (AC just equipped all lounges with new computers so they should have upgraded access too). I haven't had any problems posting to FT from MLL but could not access hotmail because of various security features they had enabled (and of course one cannot access the options/preferences without the password).
Anyway, I didn't see much to gripe about from your trip above. The lack of amenity kits would not have disturbed me. I always get a window aisle seat so have access to overhead bins but they have always seemed cavernous and empty but would have questioned why the FA's could not have hung coats up -- sounds like they had all their junk in there!
Now if there would have been grumpy FA's, crappy food, no drinks and an overcooled cabin, I might have complained.
Hope your CP trip brings back fonder memories and a good report on CP service.
[This message has been edited by BlondeBomber (edited 03-31-2000).]
Shareholder: I am now at the CP Lounge in Toronto after CP77 from LHR, the food and service was as good as ever. I was told the enhanced food service is to continue "for a few months".
I did have a bad service experiance pre-boarding, but I'll post a thread about that, as it invovolved being dowgraded from a confirmed upgrade http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/frown.gif
Apr 1, 00, 8:06 pm
Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen:
No I'm not an alien trying to make contact; just a CAIL Flight Attendant (CSD), previously a "lurker" who has decided to jump in (or jump out) at FewMiles' invitation. Due to the exposure indicative to my position, I might have very well met some of you on flights I have operated and you have booked. Believing that, may I say it is a pleasure to meet you again in such an informal atmosphere. At least I don't have to wear that archaic uniform while speaking with you!
I've read all the posts on this thread with interest and am uplifted by the employee support expressed (for both teams), concerned about some of the misinformation given and touched that the health and welfare of the combined airlines, the new AC, is such an important factor to your travelling needs and expectations. As it should be. I am not logging on to debate the internal issues the employees are facing but wish to lend my knowledge and limited information in regards to the how, what, why and when as it can be addressed from my side of the industry. All services offered or deleted by management are incorporated into or become an intregal part of the end product that I present or don't present to you, face to face, on a flight. I cannot speak for other employees within my present company or from my soon to be new extended family but I can share my personal opinions and thoughts.
With your indulgence, I will touch on a few points from my perspective regarding the publicized union positions. The pilots are the only division that are represented by two separate unions. Upside; no conflict of interest in representation. Downside; less incentive or pressure to hammer out an equitable agreement other than that provided by Mr. Milton to work things out amonst themselves. What I mean by that is Mr. Milton's "timetable" for expansion. I don't think he will wait forever. The other unions, in their own right are in difficult positions. On the local level bargaining sessions can be held and debated but on the national level, the honcho's are in a Catch-22. Since their mandate is to negotiate in good faith on behalf of all members they would be accused of conflict of interest by one side if they opened their mouths in favour of any solution that was not palatable to the other side. It's not often you see national unions verbally hogtied due to circumstances such as this. The upside here is that they are compelled to concentrate their energies into making this uncomfortable situation "go away" by councilling the respective locals vigorously to hammer out a solution without the benefit of their recommendations. To remove all executive office holders from the hot seat, it probably will come down to a CIRB decision. As far as strike action arising from this, IMO, I do not feel this action is contemplated or even a consideration from any of the unions involved.
I just want this growing pains stage to be over with and wish to retain the priviledge of working in my chosen career, maintaining the profession I love. I personally seek satisfaction through putting in a good day's work and take comfort and pride in achieving the goal, by the time I say goodbye and thank-you to people I have met as customers, that they are deplaning with a positive attitude and good memories of their flight experience while under my care.
I will not allow the labour situation to put my girdle in a knot, accelerate the progression of gray hairs to my crowning glory or add to the mosaic of "seniority" lines already present on my face.
Yoda said it best: Fear leads to Hate...Hate leads to Anger...Anger leads to Suffering...
It's not worth the negative energy required to maintain this progression.
Cheers to all and Happy Flying!
One small comment on the financial history of Air Canada. The Canadian taxpayer actually benefited by owning the airline. Over it's corporate history, Air Canada repaid the federal treasury more monies then it received. Another myth, which seems to circulate in CP territory, is that Air Canada's debt was forgiven at privitization. Such was not the case. When I have more time, I will post the balance sheet.
Apr 1, 00, 8:22 pm
he he he... Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, so here goes...
I'm back to correct some mistaken assumptions, and provide a few "examples" of my own, followed by some questions.
Part I - The assumptions
The first mistaken assumption is this business about bitterness. Rest assured that I am not bitter. People are confusing bitterness with enlighted self interest.
I didn't arrive on AA's doorstep because "I hate Milton" or "I think AC employees are jerks" (neither of which is true, BTW.) In fact, on each of my last several trips, I first offered my business to CP/AC by both reserving a seat and purchasing a ticket. I decided which flights I wanted based on approximately (I always have options) where I wanted to go combined with my expectations of the availability of upgrades, based on my past history. However, in each case, when the time came, there were no upgrades available. So I simply called up AA flights on itn, then called AA, and asked if there were upgrades available on my "2nd choice" of flights. If not, then the 3rd choice, and so on, bearing in mind that my 1st choice was CP.
An example of this was my last flight from BWI to YVR, originally BWI-ORD-YVR, all on CP flight numbers. When the E/P desk could not confirm an upgrade on the ORD-YVR segment at about 48 hrs, with itn showing 6 unassigned seats and J5, I simply changed to BWI-DFW-YVR, all on AA. The differences? Well, I saved some money, less than $10 (on currency fluctuation, I think.) It took me about 2 hours longer to get home, but I picked up an extra 700 or so qualifying miles. And foot rests -- no foot rests on AA 2-class planes. Otherwise, the service was similar, the seats and space were similar, the meal was similar, and so on. Rather than being bitter, I was simply quite happy to get my upgrade. Had CP called me up at 24 hours and said "Good news -- we got your upgrade" I would have happily cancelled my AA ticket, and rebooked on CP.
The second mistaken assumption is that I see this as AC vs. CP. That's not the case. I see it as AC management (including Milton) focusing on investors to the detriment of passengers, and to a lesser degree (at least for now) to the detriment of employees. If you check all through this thread, you'll see the only group I imply any sympathy for is AC managment, being in the untenable position of having employee groups fighting each other. An unfortunate situation all round, in my view, particularly the affected employees. Take particular notice that I did not suggest in any way, shape, or form, that either group should be given preference. It's a King Solomon's choice; one that I'm not nearly wise enough to resolve. (Although cutting Milton in half might be interesting.)
At this point, I only see one airline. I know there are seperate brands, but that distinction is becoming less and less everyday. The term MapleFlot (coined many years ago by someone much more clever than I) seems to be a good slang term to describe the current disjointed monopoly. At least in my case, it doesn't necessarily infer anything with regard to quality. (I don't actually recall using the term in this thread.) And if I seem more focused on CP, that's simply because that's were my knowledge lies. If I was an AC S/E, I suspect my arguments would be similar, but with different examples.
The third mistaken assumption is that I find 'the Mapleleaf revolting' -- an unfair and somewhat insulting innuendo. (Well, this is then internet, after all.) I'm not revolted by Air Canada. Sometimes, though, I have to remind myself not to be revolted by Mr. Milton. He is so completely focused on the investment community, it seems he's forgotten about passengers, or even the airline and its employees. Elsewhere in this thread it's been noted that he's now intent on breaking agreements between CP and some of it's senior employees, notwithstanding that CP as a legal entity still exists and still has obligations. I think AC employee's faith in him as their saviour or benefactor is misplaced, and in time, will play itself out to the detriment of employees.
And what can you think about an airline (or CEO) that tells one of it's biggest customers to get lost. I agree that there's probably more to this story (in this morning's Post) than is currently revealed. But revealing in it's own right is the statement in one of the letters from AC that "...you systematically spoke negatively about our president and CEO. We will therefore maintain our decision to revoke your Aeroplan Super Elite Status..." This speaks to Milton's ego that I alluded to elsewhere, as well as to the persistent civil service attitude that still occaisionally rears its head throughout Air Canada. If I was Robert Milton and encountered this situation with a person who generates this kind of business, I'd allow him to choose one other AC employee, and publically hit both his chosen employee and myself in the face with a cream pie, 3 times a year. I don't see this happening any time soon, however.
Apr 1, 00, 8:25 pm
Part II - The examples
Yes, AC had an equity advantage to start. But AC has been paying CP's mortgage ever since.
The first sentence doesn't sound so much like a rebuttal, as it does support. (BTW, I'm since informed that Air Canada's take from the privitization was closer to $750,000,000.00. That's like selling your car, then giving most of the purchase price back to the buyer. Others might call it a kickback.)
But I'm confused by the second sentence, about the mortgage. One of the advantages Air Canada enjoyed for most of its existance was essentially exclusive access to most of the world, including most of the US. If it was true that they had been denied access to new routes since, to some that might seem only fair -- a levelling of the playing field. But on to the details.
CP got to keep monopolies over NRT and HKG, at the same time as they were given access to LHR and CDGCP was not "given" LHR and CDG. As noted further down in the very same post, they "aquired" those rights, at some significant cost, when they purchased WardAir.
As for Asian routes, AC was offered them way back when in Crown Corporation days, but refused them believing it would take too long for them to show a profit. It was only after AC refused these rights that they were given to CP. Even then, it wasn't until Hollis Harris arrived that AC started lobbying for Asian routes. Within 3 years, they had Osaka and Seoul, and a few years later got Hong Kong and Taipei. CP didn't use SHA because they did not receive permission from China. Had AC been given SHA, they too would have been unable to operate it. Even now, Milton has stated that they need to continue negotiaging with the Chinese government, as they would like to start SHA.
AC has been consistently denied access to new markets outside of North AmericaWell, here's a few examples that counter that suggestion, from 1997. (1997 for no other reason than it was the easiest to find, and I'm basically a lazy SOB.) Here are some of the routes granted to AC in 1997:
- Cayman Islands
- Saudi Arabia
Another quickie: In 1996 they asked for and got Hungary. I think about that time, they also got Dehli, India. However, they dropped shortly after starting it, as they felt it would take too long to make money on it. (Seems strange given the large Indian community in Vancouver, but it's their call.) About that time, they also got Singapore, which they never operated.
And from 1998, Air Canada got:
- New Zealand
They also asked for Taiwan, but a review indicated that the 300,000 passenger policy requirement had not quite been reached. A review a short time later indicated that the 300,000 threshold had indeed been crossed, and AC was granted their request for rights to Taiwan (Taipei.) This was also the year that the feds began negotiating on behalf of AC for YYZ-HKG.
Clearly, Air Canada was receiving route authorities faster than they could establish routes, even if some of their requests were denied.
On to AA. Between 1996 and 1999, AA channeled both frequent flyers and cargo in CP's direction, in return for an expected increase in Asian traffic. (While all the other US majors have hubs on the west coast, in places like LAX, SFO, and SEA, AA's nearest hub was ORD -- hardly a good thing for Asian business.) In that 3 year period the number of active AAdvantage members in Canada dropped from 80,0000 to 5,000, and cargo dropped from over 1,000,000 pounds to 300,000.
And think about where CP was in late 1996 -- at one point, a few hours from bankruptcy. Clearly, that cannot be blamed on AA. Even when things got really bad for CP, AA maintained a standing offer to increase their investment in CP if the government would allow it. This included going all the way to 49%, even though 51% (or 100%) would have been preferable. They reduced some fees, waived others, and eventually deferred and forgave substantial payments. AA helped keep CP alive for 3 years that they might not otherwise have survived, and had a vested interest in seeing CP survive. That they have expressed an interest in purchasing Canadian Regional should alleviate any doubts about AA's interest in maintaining a presence in Canada, and CP would be the preferred vehicle.
All this is not to suggest that AC's government mandated head start was the single reason for CP's failure. AC's management simply took an advantagous situation that was handed to them, and ran with it. (If anyone is to blame for that particular situation, it was the Mulroney government.)
But neither was the WardAir (and other) purchases the "single" reason, nor was the investment by AA without cost. CP sometimes made mistakes all on their own, and some pretty good ones at that. Perhaps most importantly, several external events occurred in the 1990's that hurt CP. The first was the Gulf War which dramatically impacted air travel the world over. The second was the recession of the early 1990's. These hurt both CP and AC, but given CP's weakened financial state from the WardAir purchase combined with AC's huge "warchest" (in large part courtesy of taxpayers), these events had a bigger impact on CP. Finally, the real "last nail" (in my view) -- the Asian economic collapse. As this was where a lot of CP's most profitable business was, and as the government had inadvertantly done AC a favour by restricting their access to Asia, this hit was taken almost completely by CP.
Apr 1, 00, 8:27 pm
Part III - The questions
I keep getting the feeling that people are still saying to themselves
- "Well, it's not too bad."
- "It could have been worse."
- "I can probably live with that."
while posting things like
- "I admit that things are slowly eroding as far as passenger benefits"
- "Yes, there are many cutbacks in service, and I regret their loss"
- "it does appear that there are many things that our most frequent and dedicated flyers look for and miss now."
You know, the infamous "salami tactics" that in another forum, everyone expressed concern about.
(I note also that no one took up my challange about the list of things better or worse now. No one has added anything that is better, nor have they challanged any of my claims about things that are worse. This while Milton/AC continue with the Orwellian practice of calling black white -- telling us that we now have more and greater privileges and benefits, while quickly removing them. To me, this is among the most offensive aspects of this take-over.)
Then I also notice posts like
- "looking forward to building one of the best airlines in the world"
- "get on with the task of building a great airline"
- "build a new and great airline."
This all leads me to ask, among other things:
How do you make a "great new world class airline" while continuously cutting back service and benefits?
Like BlondeBomber, I don't really miss or even use a lot of the amenities on board, travelling "self-contained" as I do. But those are things people have come to expect from top international carriers like British Airways and Lufthansa, and even American and United Airlines. If you keep taking those things away (salami tactics, again) you eventually end up with Southwest Airlines domestically, and Freddie Laker internationally.
I remember CP service. It wasn't that long ago. It sure felt like world class. And from what I hear from AC Super Elites and Elites, I have no reason to believe Air Canada's service was any less. After all, they've both recently won Best Airline in North America awards. So here's another question:
What was wrong with the old airlines?
(A personal note: If the new airline does become a world class entity, I don't think it will be because of anyone like Miltion. In fact, it will be because of the employees, and in spite of Milton.)
And now to the crux of the matter. The thing that got me started in the first place, before I got distracted and ran off in all directions at once. The employee thing. The thing that raised questions about my human decency and compassion, not to mention allegations of bitterness. I'll start with some rhetorical questions:
Are not CP employees human beings who need to provide for their family? Should they simply step aside and give up their job? Should they not defend their livelihood?
They're rhetorical, 'cause it seems the answers are already at hand. (And those answers lead me to my final, and most important question.) The answers appear to be:
Yes AC employees want CP folks at the bottom of the list.and The view of our people is that they have X amount of years at CP but none at AC so to the bottom they go.
So now I ask "Where does the bitterness truly lie?"
Apr 1, 00, 8:39 pm
Very nicely said Ken. However, I am afraid you and me are the only one on this board who are taking this strong stance. While expressing my disappointment with the upgrade policy on the AC thread, I've been told that I am whining. I've been told that we were spoil by CP. At least CP "love" their customer enough to spoiling them.
The decline in service was extremely noticable on today's flight. Some of the CP Employee no longer seem to be too interested in their job. Food are getting worse.
This might sound false but booking flights are very hard lately unless one is willing to pay high fare. Is this good for us?
I personally don't think Milton deserve that 1.4M pay cheque he got.
Apr 1, 00, 10:52 pm
What have you been drinking Ken HAAmer? Where can I get some? Been at the Maple Leaf Lounge? http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/wink.gif That is the most thoughtful, cogent set of arguments I have seen yet from your "side" of the fence. I actually didn't think we were that far apart on our views (although I must agree that some our posts did seem a bit "whiney" on these threads).
I do agree that the recent focus has been on the shareholder (NOT Shareholder) which is perhaps where it needed to be for a short while. That attention must be riveted back to the airline and its service level if they want to build AC/CP into a world class operation and maintain the accolades that they still trumpet in their PR.
I personally have not noticed the recent apparent decline in service but maybe it is because I am only looking out for a select set of services and not seeing the "whole picture".
Despite the mostly negatives relayed by others, there have been pluses for me post amalgamation with the announcement of new AC metal routes. I also have been able to get seats on either CP or AC after weather related flight cancellations and still maintain my upgrade on discount flights (couldn't do that before). I also have been able to walk over and get on a CP plane using my AC reward ticket prior to it becoming officially doable. CP and AC employees have been great to making things happen for me (even if it wasn't always doable at time of reservation and even if the ask was necessitated by route reductions on either AC or CP).
I am flying the round-about YYC-YYZ-PHX later this month just so I can fly on AC metal so it shows you how much I will go out of my way to avoid flying UA, AA, NW etc. so will appreciate any increase in AC metal operations that will shorten my trips.
Maybe I am stupid, loyal or airline smart, but the reason I stick to AC is that I have had continuing more negative than positive experiences with "American"-based airlines that I have not had with AC (or even CP recently). While I like LH, I still think I get a better seat/deal with AC but then I haven't been in LH's front cabin internationally in the last 18 months. I don't want to start up a oneworld relationship as that might be too much like hard work (amzing how those loyalty programs do work). Plus I think I have got the best overall field for my choice of destinations in Star (despite the minimal mileage needed for Africa in Oneworld still)--mostly since I like to fly on AC (and now CP) metal as much as possible as I still get the upgrades 100% of the time at time of reservation which I would not be entitled to on any other carrier.
Nothing I have said (other than there have been some benefits post amalgamation) contradicts what Ken hAAmer has to say. I think he has taken a very rational approach to a complex problem.
Ken may be just a bit more pessimistic about the future. I may see a similar future but may be willing to settle for "less" on one side (food presentation; amenity kits; upgrades on all fares) if I can maintain the things I truly value on the other (ability to upgrade at time of reservation still on highly discounted fares, especially for transoceanic flights--I hardly ever flew Q or L fares for those trips anyway; mandatory access to any unsold seats for reward travel; more destinations on "Canadian"-based metal; exceptional lounges with free drinks and free internet terminals and some "snacks"; staff who seem to care and actually help me out of difficult situations; reasonable quality food and drinks in flight (although maybe not to the level that some others have come to expect on CP and other airlines--I take my daughter's attitude which is all airline food is bad so anything I get that I like I see as a benefit--I have had good and lousy meals in Y/J on European, Asian and Canadian carriers and, with one exception, lousy meals on US based carriers). My mother flies on more airlines than I do but she still values "Canadian-based" carriers with the top in the world and values "U.S.-based" carriers among the worst, given their resources and what they should be capable of providing.
As I said previously, I will look at options if I see the services I need decline or the prices rise to unacceptable levels.
Good discussion. It is on the substantive issues where it should be.
Sorry, didn't mean to be so long-winded. It started as something simple in my mind and then go convoluted along the way.
Apr 1, 00, 11:10 pm
Please don't interpret the present CP employee attitude as lack of interest in their job. Further, do not portray this as a common disease amongst all employees. The interest is still there, I still strive to show it, but it has been overshadowed for many of my colleagues by present circumstances within the Canadian aviation industry, making the attentiveness you are used to difficult to deliver. We as employees are not programmed robots. As humans we have become adept at hiding our personal concerns and tradegies behind the uniforms we wear and that is the image you are used to being exposed to. The expectation levels for our attention towards the comfort of you, the customer have always been our immediate priority. In the past we were trained to treat our personal lives as checked baggage: not to be seen, considered or rifled through until our return to home base and only to be dwelled upon when we changed out of our uniform. We are adept at pushing our personal concerns aside (a great exercise in self discipline) but in the present day situation with pressure coming simultaniously from the government, media, unions, company(s), co-workers, and the travelling public, all looking for a piece of us to gnaw on, it has become a mental and emotional challenge to keep our equalibrium in the work place and live up to the edict of "business as usual". Some employees have sprouted leaks. Hang in there until we can plug them. If visable at all, it's just temporary.
I speak as a Canadian flight crew member but I suspect that some of my counterparts at AC can identify with the sentiments I have tried to express.
Yours in the struggle...
Apr 1, 00, 11:24 pm
Thanks A Flygirl for the insight. Let's hope the few leaks that have sprung don't become gushers.
If I was staff (I do have a sister in law who is an AC Flight Attendant so get some of my info directly from her), I would be looking forward with some optimism right now and working to get the powers that be to keep from drifting to an American style decline in service.
Apr 2, 00, 12:19 am
Amen on that BlondeBomber because believe me, we don't want to be responsible for delivering an inferior service. Especially knowing what we were capable of in the past.
Apr 2, 00, 12:27 am
Thanks for the vote of confidence BlondeBomber. No gusher expected from our side of the fence. Besides, we can't afford the potential flood on our small piece of turf when that turf is compared to land mass on a global scale. Time to do my crossword. Good night and happy April Fool's.
Apr 2, 00, 4:01 am
Sorry, didn't mean to be so long-winded. It started as something simple in my mind and then go convoluted along the way.Oh man, do I know what that feels like!
I feel your pain. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/wink.gif
There will always be varied opinions, sides to take, facts to throw at each other.
We all will never agree .... that is human nature.
Regards YYZAC :-)
Apr 2, 00, 7:50 pm
So what happened SCMM?
I agree with a Flygirl. I don't want to deliver inferior American style service.However, there has to be a calculated balance. Canadian carriers have been offering a high level of J/C service both domestically and internationally. However, airlines compete with each other in areas other than onboard amenities. Ontime performance, schedule frequency, fleet age, are all factors which are taken into account when a customer chooses an airline. Canadian Airlines had insufficient funds to renew their fleet or increase its' size. When the open skies agreement with the U.S. was signed, Air Canada took advantage of the situation by starting many new routes to smaller U.S. cities, bypassing the larger U.S. hubs. Air Canada was financially able to renew and expand its' fleet at a critical juncture. In addition, Air Canada allied itself with a relatively benign U.S giant. On the other hand, Canadian sold out control to an airline which does not have the most ethical reputation in the industry. With insufficient funds to add capacity, Canadian settled with feeding American's large hubs. Canadian started almost no new U.S. routes, compared to Air Canada.
Domestically, the only competitive advantage that Canadian could muster, was to throw money at its domestic J/C food service. This alone was not enough for high yield Air Canada customers to jump ship, or should I say walk the wing. While I sympathize with the plight of Canadian's customers, I don't think it is a responsible business practice to spend more money then you earn. Let's also not forget that Canadian employees took many paycuts to finance what was essentially a F/C domestic food service at a business class price.
While I am proud to offer a high quality service, I would not want to work for an employer who would give away the store. From reading some of the comments posted in this forum, most frequent fliers are loyal to their airline only as long as their next free upgrade! I'm really beginning to wonder if anyone actually pays for a business class product,which was designed to be SOLD
Apr 2, 00, 11:31 pm
From the way you are writing, it looks like you are either a AC or CP employee but from the way you talk, it looks like you work for Milton....
I'm really beginning to wonder if anyone actually pays for a business class product,which was designed to be SOLD
First of all, I am sure a lot of us here will not be happy when you accuse that no one actually buys business class. Although I don't but I am sure some people here does.
most frequent fliers are loyal to their airline only as long as their next free upgrade!
If you work for an airline, you know it's not true. Lounge access, assesibility to awards.... are equally important. It's just that upgrades stands out from among them and the airline made the most significant changes on that.
It looks like the intention of your post was to question our loyalty to either AC/CP. If you do work for AC/CP, no wonder why we've been getting worse service lately. No airline should employ anyone who question their customer's loyalty.
Let's also not forget that Canadian employees took many paycuts to finance what was essentially a F/C domestic food service at a business class price.
At least CP cares about us enough to give us the best... For your information, C is business class which you should know if you work for an airline so why should't it be business class price.
I DO hope that AC/CP employees around does not think like you..
Any comments from others?
[This message has been edited by Empress (edited 04-02-2000).]
Gee Empress, why don't you see if you can drive _all_ the AC and CP employess away?
Regarding your first quote, you left out an important phrase used by wdk: "From reading some of the comments posted in this forum,". Of course lots of people pay for Business Class! Even on CP.
But I happen to believe that CP's service levels were not sustainable given the state they were in. I've said before (long ago, when I first switched) that it really felt like they were saying, yes we know our planes (the 737s) are old, but there's nothing we can do about that. The only thing we _can_ do is improve the service while you're here.
That probably kept some of their Business Class flyers loyal (particularly the non-elite cash-paying ones), and it may have swayed others who fly on revenue tickets up front and don't much care which airline they're on. But I don't imagine many people with status abandoned AC just to get the better service. When a company is in such dire straits they have to take risks, or give away the store for short-term survival.
I only know one person who switched from AC to CP (of course there may be others), and that was ME. And I didn't switch to get better service, I switched because I didn't like a whole series of AC management decisions and decided to vote with my feet (I also have a soft spot for underdogs, like non-MS software, although my support usually makes about as much difference as it did with CP).
And of course I can now decide whether to stay with AC/CP, or switch to someone else. Unfortunately being in Ottawa, using any American carrier means I lose access to INSPASS machines and get stuck in the YOW transborder departure area (yuck!).
Business class seats are a revenue product. AC gives away a few upgrades to Elite and SuperElite members, and is willing to leave seats empty beyond that. CP also gave away a few upgrades (more than AC) to elite-level members, but in addition was willing to sell me the seat for a nominal price ($350 YOW-LAX return) if I'd used up all my stickers. They had to take the long-term hit of devaluing Business Class for the short-term gain of selling a few stickers.
But conversely I found it almost impossible to get advance upgrades towards the end of 1999 and in January 2000 -- again I believe they were risking the possible long-term hit in return for a chance of a short-term gain in selling the seat. See Ken hAAmer's post about what happens when an airline holds too many seats for last-minute sale -- in my case they once had 6/12 seats open and had no "R" seats (R=upgraded)! And someone else posted that a whole bunch of CP upgrade seats opened up as soon as he could use AC rewards.
American carriers also sell upgrades (at least some do) but their service isn't as good in my very limited experience.
Your comment about knowing fare classes is extreme: I read "F/C" as "first class" and I agree that if AC's business class service is business class, then CP's business class service was worthy of first class, again based on my limited experience of American first class. In any case there's no reason every airline employee would know the codes (unless they're a gate or reservations agent).
"At least CP cares about us enough to give us the best"
I don't believe CP's management gave us that service because they cared about us. They gave us that service because they determined it would maximize their revenue in the short term (not being able to offer newer planes, more flights, more destinations, etc.). And they were probably right.
Of course I do think some of the changes instituted by AC are silly, such as no water before the flight, and no candy on approach (I haven't flown since January so they may we have realized how ridiculous the latter is, and reinstated it).
I do not work with or have anything to do with fares and the rules that the airlines attach to them.
As a consumer I always look for a good bang for my buck, so I do not blame anyone for getting upset at diminished services. My loyalty is to my pocket book that is it, as I'm sure all of your loyalties lay.
I understand that the small things (candies, juice, water, amenity kits, Hanging your jacket) all mean alot since you all spend lots of time away from home. You folks aren't whining .... just releasing.
Right now AC/CP are going through drastic changes, behind the scenes as well as in the public eye. (trust me .... a question mark went up in every employees mind when the first set of changes went through ..... like T1). A little time is all that is needed. I hope that the powers to be take all of the positive from both Airlines and apply it to the 'new' airline.
As far as the seniority issue goes I'll leave it to the union and the arbitrator to decide. Either way I'll have to live with it.
I'm on vacation folks see ya all in the air!
P.S. KH I did not mean to imply your nationality or your flag .... I meant AC.
I apologize for the misunderstanding.
Thanks for your comments. Yes I do work for Air Canada. Contrary to your assertions, I do an excellent job at work, being the recipient of the corporate award of excellence. The point that I was trying to make was that an airline is a business like any other. Without profitability, the airline ceases to exist, as evidenced by the case of CP. As you know, a company stays profitable by consistently providing a product which is a notch above the competitions'. CP had boxed itself into a corner and had very few to options left to attract market share. Their recent domestic business class product was an attempt to attract more high yield fares, thus regain profitablility. I believe it is naive to think that a large corporation designs a product solely because they care about the customer. Yes, front line staff such as myself truly care about the customer. But I do have my limits as well. I wish I had a dollar for every reason that I've been given by customers as to why they should be upgraded by me onboard. If I upgraded every customer who asked, just because I care, I would be negligent in my duties. I would be undermining the integrity of our business class product. While we employees do truly value our customers, we must adhere to the guidlines provided by our employer.
I would hazard a guess that the upgrade issue has put a downward pressure on the yield. Less people paying higher fares, due to the possibility of being upgraded from lower level fares. While it is the job of management to maintain customer loyalty, it is also their job to try to sell their product for the highest price the market will bear. Anything else on their part would be negligent. Just as in any other business. The other side of the equation is for management to constantly try to lower costs. We at Air Canada, have been running a relatively successful airline, with about 50 less employees per aircraft then our former major competitor, CP. Inflight, we have had for many years a system called Manning by Load. A core crew is scheduled and additional crew members are added as the load increases. CP, on the other hand, has fully crewed their aircraft, regardless of passenger load, until very recently. This is just one example of how Air Canada has tried to keep a handle on costs and thus the long term viability of the airline.
Apr 3, 00, 3:05 pm
May I humbly suggest to you that this forum, devoted to our customers and the subjects dear to their hearts, is not really the place for us as employees of either CAIL or AC to play the finger pointing game of who did what right vs. who did what wrong, who works for the better airline or who won the "war". That is their priveledge here, not ours.
My objective (and I truly believe yours is too) is to contribute input that is valuable or informative, and I wish to avoid taking an opportunity to point out the preceived shortcomings of the other team. Some FT members might find it entertaining to read a mutual bashing session but the majority, I think, would not respect the squabbling and would eventually feel invaded.
As others have read your previous post, I will just this once respond to your staffing allegations. CAIL has been operating with minimum legal crew (read MOT standard)for the past two years. By example; 737 dropped from 4 to 3 F/A's regardless of load. I'm sure on a comparison with staffing to load, the utilization would work out pretty evenly over a year. Throwing out a paper figure of employees per aircraft is not accurate either. Numerous forms of unpaid leaves have been granted, mini blocks have been awarded and unpaid vacation terms allowed so the actual figure of "active" employees would again show numbers very similar to AC's in staffing. Other than the present temporary fleet reduction, there have been no Fat Cats laying around here and AC just hired a good number of them.
I read the pride you have in your job which I share and commend. I hope that this solid bond will provide a wide scope of pertinent knowledge with which to address the concerns and questions posted here. Can we agree on this?
If you wish to continue this trend of conversation via e-mail I would be more than pleased to correspond with you. Just indicate this desire in a further post.
Cheers and Happy Flying!
Apr 3, 00, 3:26 pm
Very well said A Flygirl...
AW: Didn't meant to scare all the employees away but A Flygirl made a very very good point that this forum is not for AC employees to come on and start pointing finger at CP. As to your comments of upgrading harder to get at the end of last year. Majority of my flying came from AUG - DEC last year and I only have to standby for an upgrade twice out of 60 flights. I believe if I recall right that you fly a lot of YVR - LAX, that route is very hard to upgrade and it doesn't matter whether you are a EP or paying full Y. True, restricting fare class might limit the number of people requsting upgrade opening the door for Y/B paying passenger but at the same time is scaring away people who fly those route to switch to AA who will gladly take their business.
I still stand by my position that the new upgrade changes will not help AC/CP generate more revenue and it might even work the other way. The addition amount of revenue generated from people buying higher fare will be offset by people who stop flying or fly less of CP/AC. Of course AC will trick all of us into believing that it is working by saying that their revenue increased by X dollars but those mostly come from CP people flying more AC instead. Do we really think that this business world is so simple that by changing one variable will help them generate more revenue? Of course there are a lot more other factors they are changing but they need to start with increasing the customer base.