Future winter vacations to the sunny south could be a tad cheaper for Canadians
Hard to say for sure, but it looks on the surface as if an arbitrator's Air Canada decision on Monday could be a good thing for consumers.
A federal arbitrator, to no one's surprise, chose Air Canada's final offer over the one put forward by its 3,000 pilots. It ended a long-simmering contract dispute and marks the end of a series of showdowns between Air Canada and its varied labour force.
The tension remains with many union members, but the Monday decision is huge in that it will allow Air Canada to reduced its heavy pension load and, in theory, enable it to set up the low-cost, international airline it's been panting heavily over for years.
"I accept that Air Canada needs to establish a low-cost carrier to ensure its competitive future," arbitrator Douglas Stanley said in his decision.
Brent Jang at the Globe and Mail says the discount airline, if and when it gets set up, will be based in Vancouver. Air Canada is said to be looking for another airline as a partner and perhaps a third company that's to be determined.
Any time there's talk of more competition in this country of ours, it's a good thing. And when the goal is a low-cost, international airline with frequent trips to warm locales during a Canadian winter, it's even bettter.
I understand their frustation, but it's not terribly good for Air Canada as a whole when one hears the head of the pilots' union talking about his frustration over the arbitrators' decision.
"This new contract will affect us all negatively and have a devastasting impact on many of us," union chair Jean-Marc Belanger wrote in an internal memo to pilots. "Frankly, I am concerned that this airline may never be able to recover te pilots' goodwill, let alone their best efforts."
Whoa. I understand losing goodwill. Of course. But not giving their best efforts?
I suspect Belanger is blowing off a little steam. Disappointed as they are, I can't imagine any pilot giving his or her job less than his entire effort. They might book off a day here or there, but I'd hate to think that any pilot would seriously not do his best work once he's clocked in for the day.
GOOD TIMES IN TORONTO
Nice to see the New York Times Travel section on Sunday provide a whack of space to Toronto. They had a correspondent file a lengthy piece on how to spend 48 hours in the city, mostly centred around Queen and Ossington. They mistakenly called the County General the Country General, but it was still a good piece and added to the general solid p.r. the city has been getting.
A recent Travel + Leisure piece by Jonathan Durbin also put the city in a pretty good light.
"Thanks to an infusion of fashion-forward shops and nightlife, inventive restaurants and top-tier design, Canada's largest city has gained a newfound swagger and an edgy style all its own," said the story's introduction.
Aw, shucks, we're blushing.
It was announced on Monday that Toronto next June will be host to the Travel Bloggers Exchange, billed as the world's largest meeting of travel bloggers.
(I've been to two of their meetings; in New York and Vancouver, and it's a solid organization that attracts a ton of attention).
"We are thrilled to be bringing our event to Toronto, Canada in June 2013,” said Rick Calvert, CEO of TBEX. “We’ll be bringing about a thousand travel bloggers and key industry professionals for two days of great educational programming for digital content creators.”
“Toronto is an inspiring place for a meeting at any time and particularly so when the participants are active storytellers who will discover and share some of the thousands of stories that make this one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities,” said David Whitaker, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. “We are privileged to host TBEX next year and to help make their meeting successful.”
Later on Tuesday, I spotted this Canadian Press report.
As an '80s heart-throb turned award-winning travel writer, Andrew McCarthy has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, ventured down the Amazon on a riverboat and strapped into a sled to rocket down the Iditarod Trail in Alaska.
The former Brat Pack member has spent the past few weeks in Hamilton and Toronto to film a movie, not in his capacity as editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler. But he's taken in the sights regardless as he's spent his evenings in Toronto, attending a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre, viewing the Picasso Exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario and watching a François Truffaut film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
So, what does the travel guru make of Canada's biggest city?
"Toronto's really grown up. It's really come into its own," said the 49-year-old star of "Weekend at Bernie's" and "St. Elmo's Fire," noting that his opinion has changed drastically since he first visited Toronto in 1982, when he was doing reshoots for a film.
"I've seen Toronto grow up with me. The rap on Toronto from us snobby Americans was that it was sort of very nice, but dull.
"And that's just certainly not the case (anymore). Toronto has a real vibrant sort of confidence now that it never had, for years. But in the last 10 years maybe, it's really its own thing. It's really nice. So I like coming here a lot."
Good news all around for T.O.