Could there soon be fewer flight attendants in the skies on Canadian airlines?
Transport Canada is considering a proposal that would reduce the number of flight attendants required on flights and increase the flight attendant-to-passenger ratio to one for every 50 passenger seats from the current one for every 40 passenger seats.
Flight attendants with the CUPE Airline Division union say an increased ratio would put passengers at risk and that their jobs on an airplane go far beyond simply serving flyers drinks.
“There was already no margin of error in an emergency situation with the actual ratio of one flight attendant per 40,” Michel Cournoyer, the CUPE Airline Division president, told CBC News. “With a smaller crew to start with, imagine how things could turn if a flight attendant is injured in an evacuation.”
The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Jazz Aviation, said in a statement that safety would not be compromised, but that the new rule would put Canada on the same footing as international airlines.
“Safe and secure air travel is of the utmost importance to the member airlines of the NACC and this move to standardize Canadian regulations will in no way compromise the safety of passengers and crew,” the council said, reports the Globe and Mail.
Canadian airline WestJet has already asked for and received an exemption that allows them to fly with the 1:50 flight attendant-to-passenger seats ratio, while Air Transat and Air Canada have also applied for exemptions. Airlines in the United States and Europe currently operate with the 1:50 ratio.