Wings Magazine

Air Canada told to improve bilingual services

Sept. 19, 2011, Ottawa - The country's languages watchdog says senior managers at Air Canada need to show more commitment to bilingual services at the national airline.

September 19, 2011  By The Canadian Press

The commissioner of official languages evaluated language services aboard flights on designated bilingual routes, in call centres and at airports where the national carrier has language obligations.

Graham Fraser has come up with 12 recommendations to help Air Canada improve its bilingual services.

Fraser says Air Canada has already included most of his recommendations in its new action plan and is committed to implementing them.

Fraser notes the airline has a structure to manage its language obligations and has appointed an official languages champion.


But he says the audit uncovered "significant shortcomings" in the knowledge Air Canada managers and agents have of their obligations under the Official Languages Act.

"During this audit, Air Canada's senior management and employee union officials committed their full support to help the airline to meet its official language obligations," Fraser said in a statement.

"There is recognition that change is required in Air Canada's organizational culture and leadership, and that it must begin at the top level and filter down through all levels, leading to concrete improvements for the travelling public."

Among his recommendations, the commissioner called on Air Canada to:

— develop and implement an accountability framework for official languages in order to clearly define staff's roles and responsibilities. The airline has promised to develop and implement one by year end.

— establish a plan to effectively implement key parts of the legislation. Air Canada is developing a three-year plan to reconcile compliance with its commercial goals.

— take "concrete and effective measures" to raise awareness of language responsibilities among managers, service directors, flight attendants, lead agents and customer sales and service agents. The airline says it will pull out all stops to meet its obligations, including reviewing and updating language requirements of staff.


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