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Air Canada Pilots Put Off Strike

June 30, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) _ A union representing pilots for Air Canada said Thursday it would continue negotiating with management, putting off a possible strike until after the upcoming holiday weekend.

Talks resumed Wednesday after Air Canada’s 2,200 pilots voted overwhelmingly to authorize their union to call a strike.

With Canada preparing for a holiday weekend that kicks off the summer travel season, concern mounted that a strike by the pilots of the nation’s dominant airline would strand thousands at airports across the country.

The union must give the airline 72 hours’ notice of a strike, and it said Thursday it would refrain from setting a strike date until Sunday at the earliest. That means Wednesday would be the first possible day for a strike to begin.

Both the union and Air Canada have said they want to avert a strike.

No details of Thursday’s bargaining session were available. The talks are being held at an unknown location in Montreal.

A strike would be the second by Air Canada pilots in 18 months. The 1998 strike shut down the airline for almost two weeks at a cost of more than $100 million.

Air Canada has offered a 14.5 percent pay increase over five years and other benefits that would cost the airline more than $150 million, according to Air Canada executive Calin Rovinescu. The average Air Canada pilot earns about $60,000 a year.

The pilots say they want to be paid like pilots at U.S. airlines, many of whom make more. They also seek assurances they won’t lose their jobs to lesser-paid pilots at Air Canada’s regional subsidiaries.

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