At least 68 Canadians to give up holidays at home, head to Australia to battle wildfires
Sixty-nine Canadians are giving up their holidays at home to join the battle for the first time against the deadly wildfires devastating vast tracts of several Australian states.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says a contingent of 21 highly trained staff from a variety of agencies left Canada on Dec. 3, for a 38 day deployment in New South Wales after the centre received an official request for assistance.
On Dec. 19 a second group of 30 Canadians was sent in for a 38 day deployment in the fire zone, and a further 17 are leaving on Dec. 30 for about a month. The group leaving on Dec. 30 was previously reported to be 18 Canadians, but Global News confirmed that a family emergency lowered the number to 17.
Kim Connors, the executive director of the Winnipeg based CIFFC, says that Canada has called on Australian firefighters four times since 2015, and the “agreements are reciprocal in nature so it was the first time that Australia has needed help from Canada.”
“Our Canadian firefighters and their families have volunteered their time to be away for the holidays, which is different for the northern hemisphere to be dealing with wildland fires over Christmas and New Year’s so we’re very proud of them for doing that,” he said in an interview.
The CIFFC says crews from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Yukon, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. are assisting with a variety of tasks including roles in command, aviation, planning, logistics and operations.
“So they’re not on the front line, they’re in the overall management of the fires,” said Connors.
“They’ve been in a period of drought for quite a long period and it’s not a very good situation down there and obviously their summer is just started as our winter starts.”
In a statement to emailed to Global News, Natural Resources Canada said the international sharing of firefighting resources is of “fundamental importance to all countries.”
“The Government of Canada appreciates all the support from our provincial, territorial, federal colleagues who quickly offered staff to travel to Australia and support firefighting efforts through the holidays, and to CIFFC staff for their efforts to coordinate,” the statement read.
According to the statement, Canada has mutual aid agreements with Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Mexico and South Africa.
Record high temperatures and strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales alone.
Two volunteer firefighters have been killed and dozens of homes have been lost since Thursday in the massive fires, including the Gospers Mountain blaze, which covered more than 460,000 hectares.
–With files from Global News
Air Canada flights delayed due to IT issue – CTV News
Air Canada reported a technical issue with its flight communications system on Thursday, causing delays across the country for the second time in a week.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, the Montreal-based company said it was experiencing a “temporary technical issue” with the system it uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor the performance of its operations.
By Thursday afternoon, the airline said the system had “begun to stabilize,” though flights were expected to be impacted for the remainder of the day.
“The communicator system has begun to stabilize, and aircraft continue to move although still at a lower than normal rate. As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” Air Canada said.
“Customers are advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport as we anticipate the impact will persist through the balance of the day.”
As a result of the system failure, the airline said it implemented a “flexible policy,” allowing customers who wished to change their travel plans to do so at no cost.
Speaking to reporters before question period, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the federal government has been in touch with Air Canada and is encouraging the airline to get its communications system back up and running “as quickly as possible.”
“They understand the consequences of these delays and we’ll keep following up on the situation,” said Alghabra.
The system failure caused delays for the majority of flights scheduled to depart from the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Thursday morning, said Michel Rosset, communications manager for the Winnipeg Airports Authority.
Some Air Canada flights in the afternoon and evening were scheduled to run on time at the Winnipeg airport, but Rosset advised passengers to look online for updated flight information as that could change.
“With flights, even on a good day, things could change pretty quickly. So I’d recommend, if you’re looking for updated (flight information) throughout the day, the best bet is just to head to our website,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Leah Batstone, communications and marketing advisor for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, said the Halifax airport was aware of the “IT issue” that Air Canada was experiencing and recommended passengers to keep tabs on their flight status.
“As always, travellers are advised to check their flight status directly with their airline before coming to the airport,” Batstone said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca.
Air Canada was forced to ground its planes last week due to a similar problem with its communications system, which delayed nearly half its flights.
The airline said the issue it experienced this Thursday was in the “same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”
“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future,” it said.
“We apologize for the impact on our customers and appreciate their patience. We are working hard to get people on their way as soon as possible.”
Air Canada flight delays at Toronto Pearson | CTV News – CTV News Toronto
Several Air Canada flights are delayed at Toronto Pearson International Airport due to a temporary technical issue.
The Canadian airline said its system used to communicate with aircraft and monitor operational performance is impacted. Flights were delayed all across the airline’s system as a result, a spokesperson for Air Canada confirmed to CTV News Toronto.
At around 1:30 p.m., the airline said the communicator system has “begun to stabilize,” with flights continuing to move “although still at a lower than normal rate.”
“As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” the statement reads.
Greater Toronto Airports Authority media manager Rachel Bertone told CTV News Toronto that Toronto Pearson passengers are encouraged to check their flight status before making their way to the airport.
“We have also put in place a flexible policy for those who wish to change their travel plans at no cost,” Air Canada said.
As of Thursday afternoon, numerous Air Canada flights initially scheduled to leave Toronto Pearson this morning have been delayed to the afternoon.
Plus, many of Air Canada’s flights headed to the Toronto airport from places like Orlando, Fla., Vancouver, B.C., and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, have been delayed.
In terms of cancellations, however, just over two per cent of departures and roughly 3.5 per cent of arrivals have been cancelled – though it should be noted these percentages include all airlines.
“We apologize to those affected, and appreciate their patience,” the statement reads.
This is the second time in a week that Air Canada has suffered a technical issue with its computer system, which delayed nearly half of all its flights.
The airline confirmed in its statement, “The issue today was in the same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”
Air Canada has not said how long the technical issue is expected to last, but said they are “working hard” to get fliers on their way as quickly as they can.
Air Canada flight communicator system breaks down, causing widespread delays – CBC.ca
Air Canada is experiencing an issue with one of its internal systems, leading to flight delays across its network.
The airline said Thursday it is “experiencing a temporary technical issue with its communicator system, one of the systems that we use to communicate with aircraft and monitor operational performance.”
The issue is causing delays across the system, with 234 flights delayed so far on Thursday and 34 cancellations, according to FlightAware.com. That’s about 44 per cent of the airline’s daily load.
Air Canada’s flanker brand Rouge is also impacted, with 78 delays, or 52 per cent of its flights, as well as 11 cancellations.
It’s the second time in less than a week that the airline has been hit by a problem with its communicator system that caused delays or cancellations. On May 25, U.S. aviation regulator the FAA ordered a ground stop of all Air Canada flights due to unspecified internal computer issues. The outage lasted a little over an hour.
Air Canada says the impacted system is the same as the one from last week, but says the two outages are “unrelated.”
“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future.”
Duncan Dee, a former executive at the airline, described the affected system as an “electronic tracking system to allow them to identify the location of their aircraft at any given time within their network.”
“It’s the system which allows them to track their aircraft and to communicate with flights in a more automated way,” he told CBC News.
He was scheduled to fly on an Air Canada flight himself on Thursday and said it was disheartening to see the system fail twice “in such a short period of time. This isn’t something that happens very regularly … because obviously systems aren’t supposed to go down and certainly not to go down so soon, one after the other.”
Government monitoring situation
Early in the afternoon, the airline said the system has begun to “stabilize” but is not yet back to normal and delays continue.
The airline is advising anyone who is supposed to fly today to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.
“We are working hard to rectify this situation,” the airline told CBC News in an emailed statement. “We apologize to those affected, and appreciate their patience.”
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he has been in constant contact with the airline and has been assured that the company is doing everything it can.
“I encourage them to get it up as quickly as possible,” Alghabra said. “They understand the consequences of these delays … they are working on restoring it as quickly as possible.”
Last month, the government tabled new rules designed to make it harder for airlines to wriggle out of compensating passengers for costly delays and cancellations. Those rules have yet to be tabled, but Alghabra said what’s happening on Thursday would be covered by existing rules since it’s being caused by something the airline can control.
“Based on current rules, passengers are protected,” he said. “Air Canada has obligations to passengers.”
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