Sounds like a "Canadian solution" is almost wrapped up.
Request to use British carrier, crews still stands
By: Susan Pigg, business reporter
---Toronto-based Skyservice Airlines Inc. will take
over the leases on two Airbus A320s that have been
parked at Pearson Airport since Canada 3000
unexpectedly grounded all its 38 aircraft last month.
The two aircraft will give Signature Vacations a
"made-in-Canada solution" to getting thousands of
travellers to sun destinations this winter, and fend off
mounting opposition to its request for help from a
British airline while 14,000 airline workers remain jobless
in Canada, Signature said yesterday.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's done now, but it's a
matter of dotting the I's and crossing the T's," said
Grant DeMarsh, president of tour operations for
"We're at the point now where we know all of our
customers are going to get their holidays."
Air Canada, Montreal-based Air Transat and
Calgary-based WestJet Airlines will also pick up some
of Signature's business, almost half of which had been
handled by Canada 3000 before it went bankrupt Nov.
But those airlines combined couldn't handle all of
Signature's passengers and there were fears that
bankruptcy proceedings aimed, in part, at returning
Canada 3000's aircraft to their lessors were moving so
slowly, Skyservice wouldn't be able to get some of the
airplanes in time.
Some work is now being done on the planes, which are
expected to fly vacationers to Mexico, Cuba, the
Dominican Republic and Las Vegas between Dec. 20
and the end of April, said DeMarsh.
But, just in case, Signature has no plans to withdraw
its controversial application before the Canadian
Transportation Agency to have Signature's sister
company, British charter carrier Air 2000 Ltd., place
two Boeing 757s in Toronto and use its own crews to
operate some flights to southern destinations.
"Until there's a bow around the whole thing (the new
agreement with Skyservice), you don't want to cut off
any avenues," DeMarsh said in a telephone interview
That request to Ottawa had outraged other airlines
and unions for the 14,000 pilots, flight attendants,
baggage handlers, mechanics and other airline
employees who are now without jobs because of the
grounding of Canada 3000 and layoffs at other
Canadian airlines like giant Air Canada and Air Transat.
"I believe it sets a dangerous precedent," said Jim
Ballingall, vice-president of marketing and sales for
55-year-old First Air, which had protested the request
to have a British carrier fly passengers out of Canada
when there are so many carriers here ? including First
Air ? that could help pick up the slack.
"You have a number of potential operators, potential
investors, looking at buying parts of Canada 3000,"
and starting up new, although much smaller airlines,
Ballingall said. "If the government allows foreign
carriers to come in and take Canadians to sun
destinations, which is a good portion of what Canada
3000 did, why would anyone start up (an airline)
Air Canada had opposed the unusual application,
saying it could further destabilize Canada's already
fragile airline industry