CRIES of protest are emerging from Canada's largest airline, Air Canada, over a nine-month restriction imposed by its government's Ministry of Transport on starting services to Hong Kong.
The airline, which just over two weeks ago was given the official go-ahead to join arch-rival Canadian Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways on the route, effective immediately, has since been told it cannot begin services until at least December.
Air Canada had planned to begin its Toronto-Vancouver-Hong Kong service in July, during the peak season for travel on the route.
Last week, the carrier was granted three slots at Kai Tak airport for the summer period.
The airline's chairman, president and chief executive officer, Hollis Harris, said in a statement that he was happy permission to operate on the route was granted - despite the delay - and thanked Canadian Transport Minister Doug Young 'on behalf of all of Air Canada's employees'.
But in a separate statement, Air Canada employees said they were livid over the fact that services cannot begin until December 20 and that the government's actions amounted to protectionism for its rival airline. Air Canada has been known in the past to send statements through employees.
'The federal policy has succeeded in providing clarity, but failed in providing parity between the two airlines,' Air Canada's Maurice Goneau said.
'In essence, the government is telling us that we are in a nine-month holding pattern before we can start service to Hong Kong, even though we are ready to start service as early as July 1.' Another employee, Christiane Brisson, said in the statement: 'We just don't understand the logic of this.'