NavCanada To Close Flight Information Centers Due To COVID-19

Canada’s air traffic control and aeronautical information services provider, NAV Canada, has recently announced that it must make some deep cuts to its staffing and other services. This comes as the impact of the global health crisis continues to suppress its revenues. The latest announcement, made September 22nd, indicates that its Winnipeg and Halifax flight information centers will be shut down.

Air Canada cargo loading
NAV Canada provides service to more than 18 million square kilometers of Canadian domestic and oceanic airspace. Photo: Air Canada

“NAV Canada today made the difficult decision to eliminate permanent jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant negative impact on global air traffic and on the aviation industry. To adapt to the new realities of air traffic levels, the company is also taking steps to safely streamline operations and will be launching level of service reviews for certain aerodromes.”

Winnipeg and Halifax facility closures

The company will also close its flight information centers in Winnipeg (Manitoba) and Halifax (Nova Scotia). However, despite these closures, the organization says that pilots and dispatchers will continue to receive the same vital information required, such as:

These will be provided by the remaining flight information centers. NAV Canada also notes that while the Winnipeg flight information center is shutting down, its Winnipeg air traffic control tower and other operations in the city will not be closing.

“Undoubtedly, the company is in the midst of the toughest moment in its history. NAV Canada is not immune to the economic downturn and severe financial impacts the aviation industry is experiencing,” – Neil Wilson, President and CEO, NAV Canada

Porter Airlines Dash 8
NAV Canada says its safety record is “irrefutably one of the best in the world amongst air navigation service providers.” Photo: Getty Images

Staff reductions

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, NAV Canada had 5,100 employees nationwide. However, in recent months the organization has enacted reductions in staffing of temporary employees and instituted early retirements. These actions have done away with more than 720 jobs or 14% of the workforce. However, NAV Canada says that it will “continue to monitor air traffic activity across the country and adapt its operations and workforce accordingly as necessary.”

Vancouver International Airport
NAV Canada’s customers include airlines, air cargo operators, air charter operators, air taxis, helicopter operators, and business and general aviation. Photo: Vancouver International Airport

Before Tuesday’s layoffs, NAV Canada took the following steps to reduce its expenditures and preserve jobs:

  • Reduce management compensation
  • Defer retroactive wage increases with bargaining units
  • Offer a voluntary retirement program to minimize cash outflows
  • Draw from the federal government’s Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program

The most recent rounds of staffing cuts will affect all departments and include “most of the current cohort of operational students.”

Flair Airlines
All carriers flying through Canadian airspace have had to deal with recent service fee increases imposed by NAV Canada. Photo: Flair Airlines

More cuts are possible

NAV Canada notes that in the coming weeks, it will launch aeronautical studies for multiple aerodromes, assessing the level of service required to provide safe and efficient operations for its airline, air cargo, and general aviation customers.

[Aeronautical studies are a] rigorous, systematic approach provides for full consultation with all affected stakeholders, with the key factor being safety.

The organization underscores that these changes will not have any operational impact on the safe delivery of air navigation services across the country.

Do you think NAV Canada will be able to cut costs while providing satisfactory levels of service successfully? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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