Letter from Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO: Weathering the storms
Nov 01, 2017

This month’s enRoute includes a summary of Citizens of the World, Air Canada’s Corporate Sustainability Report, which highlights our humanitarian, social and environmental initiatives. We were painfully reminded of the necessity of these programs when a series of powerful hurricanes ripped across the Caribbean and the southern United States – abetted, scientists say, by rising and warming oceans.

In the space of days, Air Canada operated 50 extra flights to the affected regions, making nearly 10,000 seats available to Canadians and others in the storms’ paths. It was a complex task: We had to maintain our regular schedule while freeing up aircraft and crews to take on these special missions, with the planes flying empty in one direction and bringing scared and shaken travellers back home in the other.

Simply alerting people to the extra flights was difficult, given that the communications infrastructure on the ground was disrupted. Also, the small airports throughout the region were ill-equipped to handle a rush of thousands of customers or large aircraft. We flew 450-seat Boeing 777s to places we normally serve with 136-seat Airbus A319s, presenting challenges for everything from aircraft servicing to boarding.

Our teams who work at these airports also live in these communities, and they, like our customers and other residents, were also severely affected. We were concerned for their safety and that of their families. In some cases, we flew down with ground staff from Canada, including mechanics and gate agents, to work the return rescue flights.

What was not difficult was finding outstanding Air Canada employees willing to help. Hundreds across all departments worked long hours organizing and operating flights. This included our cargo teams, who coordinated with aid agencies to ship thousands of kilos of relief supplies, including humanitarian kits hand-packed by employee volunteers.

Air Canada has a long history of drawing on its global expertise to operate relief missions in far-flung regions stricken by war, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters. And, while we are proud of our initial response, we have not forgotten that people living in impacted areas face a difficult recovery, so we will continue to do our part to help get life back to normal and encourage tourism to resume in these destinations that rely on it so much.

Calin’s column appears every month in enRoute Magazine, Air Canada’s award-winning in-flight magazine found onboard all Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express flights. This edition is from the November 2017 issue.