Air Canada is looking to avoid a repeat of this past summer’s widespread disruptions as it heads into the busy holiday travel season.
The company learned valuable lessons during the “operationally challenging” summer months that it is applying to current operations as travel demand continues to bounce back, said chief executive Michael Rousseau on Friday.
After operational improvements in late summer, the airline is now performing at pre-pandemic levels as it continues to increase staffing numbers, he said in a news release.
“We sincerely regret any inconveniences that have occurred,” said Rousseau.
With the canceled flights and airport gridlock of the summer still fresh in the minds of many travelers, he looked to reassure passengers about the lessons the airline has learned.
“With customers booking their winter and holiday getaway travel, they can have full confidence in our ability to carry them safely and conveniently.”
While travel disruptions continued throughout July, there were improvements in August and September that helped see Air Canada transport around 11.5 million passengers in the third quarter and reach its first positive operating income since the pandemic began.
The airline said it had $644 million in operating income for the quarter, compared with an operating loss of $364 million in the third quarter of 2021.
In addition to high demand, this quarter also saw high ticket prices that helped offset fuel costs, said Walter Spracklin, an analyst for RBC Dominion Securities.
An unfavorable foreign exchange rate added to the high price of aircraft fuel, which increased more than 80 per cent from the third quarter of 2021, said Amos Kazzaz, chief financial officer for Air Canada.
An improved passenger load of 86 per cent, up from 71 per cent in 2021, also helped to mitigate these costs, as fuller planes also led to better than expected cost per seat reductions, said Spracklin.
Air Canada reported its capacity, measured as available seat miles, for the quarter was up 130 per cent compared with a year ago, while its traffic measured in revenue passenger miles was up 179.5 per cent compared with the third quarter of 2021.
Overall, Air Canada reported a net loss of $508 million in its third quarter compared with a loss of $640 million in the same quarter last year as it ramped up operations and more than doubled its revenue.
The airline says the loss amounted to $1.42 per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30 compared with a loss of $1.79 per diluted share a year earlier.
Revenue for the quarter totalled $5.32 billion, up from $2.10 billion in the third quarter of 2021.
Alberta invokes Sovereignty Act over federal clean electricity regulations – CBC.ca
Alberta’s United Conservative government has invoked its controversial Sovereignty Act for the first time by introducing a resolution to push back against the federal government’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations.
The resolution, tabled in the Alberta legislature Monday, instructs governments and provincial entities such as the Alberta Electric System Operator and the Alberta Utilities Commission to ignore the regulations when they come into force “to the extent legally permission.”
The resolution also raises the possibility of Alberta setting up a Crown corporation to protect the private sector companies that provide electricity in the province. If passed, the resolution would direct AESO, AUC and the Market Surveillance Administrator to consult with stakeholders on the feasibility of such a corporation.
The Clean Electricity Regulations, currently in draft form, lay out the rules for getting Canada’s electricity grid to net zero emissions by 2035.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says the deadline is impossible for the province to meet without risking blackouts and high costs for consumers.
The government says investors are afraid of proposing new power generation projects in light of the CER. The Crown corporation could commission new natural gas-fired plants, make deals for small-scale nuclear reactors or buy existing gas-fired plants.
At a news conference Monday, Smith said a provincial Crown corporation would encourage private sector companies to keep investing, but it would be a generator of last resort.
“I cannot give direction to a private sector company to defy the law,” she said.
“But if we operate a Crown corporation, we will do it on the basis that we’re only stepping in so that we can make sure that we preserve power.”
Smith said a resolution passed by the legislature would help the province if the matter goes to court. But she also hopes it compels the federal government to avoid a legal battle by abandoning the 2035 net zero goal.
“Why don’t we just work together on a 2050 target?” she asked.
“I’m hoping that they now understand that we’re serious, that we are going to preserve the integrity of our power grid in whatever way we need to, so that we can get back to the table and talk about the ways in which we can agree.”
WATCH | Alberta Premier Danielle Smith plans first use of Sovereignty Act:
Smith publicly proposed the Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act when she was running for the leadership of the UCP in summer 2022.
Under the law, the legislature can pass motions that outline why and how the province will not enforce federal legislation deemed not to be in Alberta’s interests.
The idea appealed to UCP members who believed Smith’s predecessor, Jason Kenney, wasn’t tough when dealing with the federal government. Smith won the leadership in October 2022. The act was tabled and passed in the legislature in her first sitting as premier.
The resolution introduced Monday will likely pass since Smith’s United Conservative Party holds the majority of seats in the Alberta legislature.
Feds say they’re on solid ground
Steven Guilbeault, the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the potential use of the Sovereignty Act never came up in months of meetings between federal and provincial officials as part of a working group on the CER and the oil and gas emissions cap.
He said the federal government will continue meeting with stakeholders on the draft regulations.
“There is no legal basis for what Alberta is doing ,” Guilbeault told reporters on Parliament Hill.
“We feel that we’re on very solid ground and the fact that we already have some provinces who are on board with us, as well as a number of private companies and investors who say that this is the way to the future. We will continue working on this.”
Rachel Notley, leader of the Official Opposition NDP, said her caucus will oppose the resolution.
“The so-called Sovereignty Act is an illegal stunt. Unfortunately, it is a stunt with real world consequences,” Notley said.
“It undermines investment certainty. It challenges our respect for the rule of law. It breaches treaty rights all over Canada, but especially here in Alberta, and it declares to the world that we just don’t care about tackling climate change.”
Legal experts said different aspects of the resolution jumped out at them.
Gerard Kennedy, an assistant professor of law at the University of Alberta, said Smith’s resolution is premature since the regulations aren’t in force yet.
“It’s a symbolic step,” he said. “I think this is neither necessary nor sufficient to fight the federal regulations which we haven’t even seen yet.”
Andrew Leach, a professor of economics and law at the University of Alberta, said the section that directs the provincial entities, like AESO, to consider the federal regulations invalid will be a problem.
“They’re not planning our electricity system around meeting those more aggressive climate targets, which then in turn, makes them less easy to meet if we don’t have the electricity system infrastructure planned accordingly,” he said.
Rising costs causing ‘inflation isolation’ among Canadians, poll finds
In the wake of high inflation, Canadians find themselves facing a twofold dilemma, one that not only burdens their wallets but also takes a toll on their mental health, according to a recent Ipsos poll.
The poll, released Monday and commissioned by MNP LTD, found that higher costs and interest rates are causing “inflation isolation,” as more than half of the respondents (51 per cent) said they are staying home more to save money.
A third of respondents said they are spending less time socializing or hanging out with friends in order to cut costs.
“Canadians are feeling mental anguish with rising inflation and interest rates,” Grant Bazian, president of MNP LTD told Global News. “People are scared of spending money and as a result, they’re staying at home and not doing things they normally would and feeling isolated as a result.”
The poll comes less than a week after the head of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, acknowledged that although inflation rates are starting to slow, higher interest rates are “squeezing” Canadians. The Bank of Canada began rapidly increasing its benchmark interest rate in March 2022, causing many homeowners’ mortgage payments to balloon.
This financial pinch felt by some comes amid soaring food costs, which is causing many Canadians to have to reach deeper into their pockets to afford everyday essentials.
“Canadians are being practical and smart,” Bazian said. “They’re spending money where they need — a roof over their head and food in their belly — but they’re adverse to spending money outside of the home, like movies, concerts, maybe trips.”
The Ipsos poll found that 34 per cent of Canadians reported paying more in their monthly debt payments compared to a year ago. And almost half (45 per cent) said they don’t believe they will be able to cover their living expenses in the next year without racking up more debt.
One in five respondents reported feeling a sense of social isolation or loneliness as a result of higher interest rates and inflation, according to the poll. Faced with the constant worry of making ends meet, two in five respondents said the current economic conditions have led to increased stress and anxiety.
For those respondents who rated their personal debt as “terrible”, the poll found they were significantly more likely to feel increased stress (77 per cent), anxiety (72 per cent), stay home more often (72 per cent), and spend less time socializing (55 per cent) to save money, compared to those who rated their personal debt situation as “excellent”.
According to the poll, younger Canadians and those earning less than $40,000 were most likely to reduce their socializing and time spent with friends, leading to more social isolation and loneliness.
“People that are older typically have more money by the way for savings. They may not have mortgages or not much left on their mortgage,” Bazian explained.
“When you’re a young adult, you’re just starting into that world, so you’re going to have a lot of debt associated with your house and your car financing, maybe furniture. And yet you still want to go on trips with your family and not be left out. So definitely a lot more anxiety,” he added.
Although the high cost of living and debt have a way of isolating people, both emotionally and socially, Bazian recommends still trying to reach out to friends and family.
More on Health
He advised trying more affordable ways to socialize, including outdoor activities like walks or picnics or organizing potluck dinners.
“Or maybe it’s finding people with similar financial constraints that you can do that with or just maybe being honest with friends,” he said.
For people who are grappling with debt and financial challenges, Bazian also recommended seeking assistance from debt specialists to figure out what options you have.
The data was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between September 5-8, 2023. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
— With files from Global News’ Craig Lord and the Canadian Press
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