Air Canada issues notice to lock out pilots Monday: Ottawa likely to intervene
Well, that didn't take long.
Less than two hours after Air Canada said it was issuing a notice of intent to lock out pilots on Monday, the first weekday of March Brea,, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt slammed on the (air) brakes.
Raitt today said there will be NO work stoppages on Monday. Meaning no lockout of pilots, and no strike by 8,000-plus machinists and baggage handlers.
As reported by the Star's Vanessa Lu, Raitt has "formally sent the two disputes to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, an echo of a similar move last fall when the flight attendants had threatened to walk off the job.
She told reporters in Ottawa of her decision, just hours after the airline served formal notice it would lock out its 3,000 pilots at 12:01 a.m. Monday, which coincided with strike deadline of machinists’ union."
More to come tomorrow, or tune into Lu's reports at www.thestar.com.
NEW YORK HUNGRY FOR YOUR CHILDREN
Geez, they just last year passed the 50 million mark in tourism visits. And now New York City is hankering to rreach 55 million by 2015.
On Wednesday at a travel trade convention in Berlin, officials with NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism and marketing organization, said they'll be targetting the 18-29 age group in an attempt to draw another 1 million youths in the next five years as part of that Freedom 55 plan.
The city drew an estimated 15.1 million visitors in that age group last year - almost 30 percent of the City’s total visitor volume.
To reach the target, NYC & Company announced plans to launch NYC<30, along with an upcoming partnership with MasterCard to create “priceless” NYC experiences exclusive to MasterCard cardholders.
"NYC<30 encourages youth to travel to New York City with special value offers and by highlighting what makes the five boroughs a hub for young travelers. NYC<30 will be promoted through a micro-site on nycgo.com, social media and a commitment to working with the WYSE Travel Confederation, the world’s largest network of youth and student travel operators."
More details regarding NYC<30 will be revealed at a tourism conference in Los Angeles in April and then more later at a travel convention in London in November. For more information in the meantime, visit www.nycgo.com/under30.
As I was saying yesterday in this space (hey, I saw you sleeping in the corner, buddy; but this is important), New York is a city that's widely affordable for just about anyone if you make some adjustments; most notably on hotels. Subway and local buses are $2.25, although you can walk just about anywhere. Cabs are cheaper and more plentiful than Toronto. Many museums have free days. There's tons of cheap food around, especially if you walk a block or two from the main tourist areas and avoid trying to have lunch at the new, hip place in town. And many of the top experiences are either free or close to it; Central Park, the Staten Island Ferry, a walk through Little Italy or SoHo or Greenwich Village.
There are increasingly attractive hotel options in the boroughs, including in Queen's and Brooklyn. You can stay in fashionable places such as W hotels in the boroughs for considerably less than the same room in Manhattan, and you're a short ride from the major attractions. Increasingly, there are more attractions and fun neighbourhoods in those boroughs, too, especially places such as Park Slope, Williamsburg and DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn. Check out Long Island City, too, in Queens.
A visitor can travel easily and affordably to all five boroughs by the City’s 24/7 subway and bus system. Granting access to every zone of the transit system, the fare for a subway or local bus ride is only $2.25, while a seven-day unlimited pass costs $29. The City also committed to launching a bike-share program, making it easier for visitors and New Yorkers to take advantage of the more than 1,100 kilometers of bike lanes across the five boroughs.
Last year, New York City and AT&T announced a five-year initiative to provide free WiFi in 20 parks across the five boroughs. Fourteen parks offer the free service, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Battery Park, Central Park, Astoria Park and Clove Lakes Park. That's pretty cool, too.
BIKINI PARADE IN FLORIDA - THAT'S THE BEST WE CAN DO?
I was shocked - shocked - to see that Panama City, Florida had set a new world's record the other day for most participants in a Bikini Parade. Not shocked that a record was set, or shocked that it was set in Panama City, although Miami would've been a stronger bet had I thought about it, which I hadn't for at least a week. No, I'm shocked that the best they could do was a measly 450 women.
That's it? Sounds like a Newt Gingrich victory party crowd to me. Then again, they beat the previous record of 357in Australia last October, so I guess they should be proud....
I was thinking of trying a Speedo Parade in downtown Toronto for July sometime. I bet we could do better than 450 women in bikinis. But the show would not be pretty.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY - A DOOZY IN THE MAYAN RIVIERA
Whoa. THIS is a great deal from the folks at www.jaunt.ca (a subsidiary of Torstar, just so you know): a flight to Mexico and 7 nights at the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda on the Mayan Riviera for just $599, plus $346 in taxes. Here's what you get:
- One-week all-inclusive accommodation at the 5-Star beach front BlueBay Grand Esmeralda
- Includes round trip flight from Toronto to Cancun, Mexico and transfers to/from airport to the resort
- Stay in a Deluxe Room, with air-conditioning, ceiling fan, 1 king-size or 2 double beds, huge spa bathroom with shower, hairdryer, TV, radio/alarm clock, coffee-maker, in-room safe, iron, balcony or terrace (maximum occupancy 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children)
- Enjoy all inclusive service with 3 meals daily plus snacks, option to dine at any of the 6 à la-carte restaurants (reservations required, based on availability), unlimited select domestic and international beer and cocktails
- On-site activities include 3 swimming pools with separate area for kids, 24hr Sports bar, two tennis courts, volleyball court, golf course, fully equipped gym, theatre and more
- $50 future travel voucher for Nolitours from Targetvacations.ca
Having just spent a week on the Mayan Riviera in February, and having paid more than twice that much for the pleasure, I can tell you this is a killer deal in my opinion. I haven't seen the resort, to be fair, but it looks terrific and I really liked the area in general.
There's tons of history nearby - ruins in Tulum and Chichen Itza and Coba, for three. The town of Playa Del Carmen makes for a fun shopping trip or a night excursion. There's great golf all around, and fabulous snorkeling and diving. And the freshwater cenotes are great for swimming or diving.
Yes, it's Mexico, but I have to say I felt perfectly safe on my trip and I don't hesitate recommending the area for a holiday. Yes, things could happen. But it's highly unlikely in what's deemed by most travel types to be the safest region in the country.