Labour dispute causes flight delays, cancellations at Toronto's main airport

A sudden labour disruption by workers that refuel planes at Toronto's main airport caused flight delays and cancellations on Friday.
A sudden labour disruption by workers that refuel planes at Toronto's main airport caused flight delays and cancellations on Friday. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TORONTO (Reuters) - A sudden labour disruption by workers that refuel planes at Toronto's main airport caused flight delays and cancellations on Friday, said the union that represents the workers, as the city prepared for the start of the Pan American Games on July 10.

In a bulletin posted online, Pearson International Airport said a labour dispute could disrupt flights.

By 9.55am, its website showed 21 delayed and 30 cancelled departures for a range of airlines. It was not clear how many were routine, and how many were caused by the dispute.

International Association of Machinists spokesman Bill Trbovich said members of Lodge 2413 were involved, but the union had not sanctioned the job action.

Mr Trbovich said that to the best of his knowledge, some employees were not going to work, and others were refusing overtime.

Some 250 employees of Consolidated Aviation Fueling are set to lose their jobs in the autumn as Air Canada and other airlines switch fuel providers, he said.

"This is not a labour disruption between the airlines and their fueling company," said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick. "This is a labor disruption at Consolidated Aviation Fueling Services which is affecting all airlines at Pearson."

Air Canada is switching its Toronto and Montreal fuel providers from Consolidated Aviation to ASIG in Toronto, effective Oct 1, and to Swissport in Montreal, effective July 1.

Nearly all the cancelled flights were operated by Air Canada, but many other Air Canada flights had departed normally or were still scheduled to leave on time.

Consolidated Aviation, owned by closely held Allied Aviation, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Pan Am Games are expected to draw 250,000 visitors and 10,000 athletes to Toronto and the surrounding area.