Air Canada to furlough up to 600 pilots as more planes grounded

Montreal, Canada - Air Canada will send up to 600 pilots to the unpaid leave of its members will go on unpaid leave in the coming days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the union says.

Captain Michael McKay, head of the Air Canada Pilots Association, says the union has agreed with Air Canada on a plan of unpaid leave for 600 pilots at maximum.

The 4,400 pilots have also agreed to reduced pay across the board and simplified contract language to allow pilots to retire earlier.

McKay says a precipitous drop in passenger demand and the challenging operating environment have prompted the changes. He is joining other unions in calling on Ottawa for financial relief for the aviation industry.

Due to the complexity of pilot training, the precise number of positions immediately affected at the country's largest airline is still unclear.