Cuts to Canada's Air Navigation System Ill-Advised, CAW says

March 4, 2009, 3:14 PM EST

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NAV CANADA, operator of Canada's civil air navigation services, has announced additional cuts and facility closures to the already dwindling air navigation system (ANS), says Derek Yakielashek, President of Air Traffic Specialists Local 2245 CAW-Canada.

NAV CANADA intends to close eight Flight Service Stations, reduce the hours of operation at five other stations and close eleven remote advisory services.

"Many of these communities will no longer have a highly-trained professional at the airport with their 'eyes on the sky' to ensure Aviation Safety," Yakielashek said. "Due to the location of these communities, many people will encounter delays for arriving and departing aircraft, making accessing MEDEVAC, humanitarian, police and Search and Rescue flights more difficult," Yakielashek said.

Flight Service Station closures at the following airports include Prince Rupert, Smithers and Williams Lake in British Columbia; High Level and Peace River in Alberta; Saskatoon in Saskatchewan; Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario and Rouyn-Noranda in Quebec.

Other communities slated to lose their airport services include Buffalo Narrows, Chibougamau, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Havre St. Pierre, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, Natashquan, Norway House, Quesnel, Sandspit and The Pas.

What is most disappointing is that these closures appear to be more about the current economic crisis rather than any real reduction in traffic levels.  While the definitive statistics for 2008 are not complete, preliminary estimates would indicate that air traffic levels are relatively stable considering the peak and valley nature of the airline industry.  "It is unfortunate if NAV CANADA uses the current economic crisis to make cuts rather than actual changes in traffic levels," said Yakielashek.

The CAW represents 800 Flight Service Specialists across Canada who provide vital airport services including advisories, air traffic, runway, wind and altimeter information and significant weather to ensure the safety of arriving and departing aircraft.

NAV CANADA is a private sector, non-share capital corporation that operates Canada's civil air navigation services.

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