The summer of 2022 was a difficult time for air travel, with passengers experiencing delays, long security wait lines, and lots of lost luggage.
With travel volume returning to pre-pandemic levels, one expert said this summer could also be plagued with issues, but he’s staying “cautiously optimistic.”
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” McGill University School of Aviation Management lecturer John Gradek told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.
Prospective travelers are wary of a WestJet pilots strike that could happen Tuesday if the two sides do not reach a deal.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents about 1,600 flight crew at WestJet and its subsidiary Swoop, is asking for job protection, an increase in pay and better scheduling.
On top of the potential strike action, Gradek says Canada may have a looming pilot shortage.
“Airlines are looking at the writing on the wall,” Gradek said, noting the effects of retirement and other factors behind a dwindling number of pilots.
“The US has taken the initiative to look at increasing wages for pilots and to start (its) own training program. So the airline industry in the US is starting to realize that there’s an issue and I’m waiting to see what the Canadian carriers are will do.”
While Gradek says there are other “dark clouds” on the horizon, including a shortage of air traffic control workers across Canada and the US, he remains upbeat.
“The airports have done a good job of hiring people,” he said. “The airlines have said that they’ve brought in staffing levels that got them exceeding the 2019 pre-pandemic staffing levels. If there’s an issue there, it’s going to be how well trained they are.”
When travelers are heading to the airport, Gradek says “patience will be required” for what he expects to be a busy summer travel season.
“Let’s see if they (the industry) learned their lesson and let’s see how the summer of 2023 evolves,” Gradek said.
To watch the full interview click the video at the top of this article.