The safety of the travelling public depends on having an appropriate number of cabin crew trained in safety and security procedures, as demonstrated by Asiana flight 214's crash in San Francisco on July 6th, 2013, when all but two passengers were successfully evacuated from a burning aircraft by a full contingent of brave flight attendants - at the time, the flight had a ratio of 1 flight attendant per 24 passengers.
This was again demonstrated during Air France flight 358's crash in Toronto Pearson on August 2nd 2005, when a full complement of cabin crew managed to evacuate all passengers safely from a burning aircraft in less than 90 seconds. At the time, the flight had a ratio of 1 flight attendant per 30 passengers.
A history of aircraft accidents demonstrates that more flight attendants positioned at emergency exits improves every passenger's chance of escaping and surviving in the event of an aircraft accident. Flight attendants also deal with other onboard threats and emergencies such as fires, hijacking, air rage, and medical situations, to name a few.
This is not the first time this issue has been debated. In 2001 Transport Canada refused to reduce aircraft cabin crew complement due to important safety concerns and public feedback. Now, under our current Conservative Government, Transport Canada chooses to prioritize corporate revenue over passenger safety by reducing cabin crew by up to 25% and adopting a 1 flight attendant to 50 seat ratio. This is fundamentally wrong, politically motivated, and very dangerous. Please voice your concerns by signing this important petition and speaking out for airline safety.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2013
No compromise on safety of airline passengers is acceptable
Ottawa, ON - By announcing its intent to reduce the number of flight attendants on board of large aircrafts, the Harper Conservative government is putting corporate profits ahead of the safety of passengers, says CUPE National President Paul Moist and CUPE Airline Division President Michel Cournoyer.
“Not only is the 1 to 50 flight attendant/passenger ratio exemption granted to WestJet on May 6 dangerous, but it is the tip of the iceberg. The Harper government is now ready to change regulations for all airlines and take a chance on the safety and security of all airline passengers,” said Moist.
“On top of providing excellent services to passengers, flight attendants are safety professionals. On board, these women and men are firefighters, policemen and nurses. In an emergency situation, all the flight attendants are essential to ensure the safety and the security of passengers,” said Michel Cournoyer.
In 2006, the then federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon decided to maintain the 1 to 40 flight attendant/passengers ratio for larger aircrafts because “the Conservative government recognized the important contribution that flight attendants make, particularly in emergency evacuations”. Yesterday the government granted WestJet an exemption from the 1 to 40 ratio, and indicated it intends to change the regulations for all carriers.
“Fewer flight attendants means lower safety and more risk for passengers, especially in the post-9/11 era. Even the Harper government used to recognize that. Why such a dangerous reversal in the government position? Certainly, the reality on board in emergency situations has not changed,” said Moist.
“In August 2005, an Air France Airbus ran off the PearsonAirport runway into a ravine and burst into flames. That day the ratio of flight attendants to passengers was 1 to 25, which exceeded the international standards, and all the passengers on board survived. This accident highlighted the essential role played by highly-trained flight attendants, as well as the need to have a sufficient number of these safety professionals on board,” said Cournoyer.
“For the majority Harper government, it now seems that airline companies’ profits are more important than common sense. With such high stakes for airline passengers, the federal government should not act unilaterally. We are asking the federal government to hold public consultations. Hopefully, the security priority will prevail,” added Moist.
CUPE represents over 10,000 flight attendants working for Air Canada, Air Transat, Calm Air, Canadian North, Canjet, Cathay Pacific, First Air and Sun Wing.