Safety highest priority for NAV CANADA
February 23, 2021 By Raymond G. Bohn, President and CEO, NAV CANADA
I was dismayed to read assertions made about potential changes to NAV CANADA’s level of services at several airports across the country by Doug Best, President, Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (“CATCA”).
NAV CANADA, a not-for-profit organisation, has the unique responsibility to provide air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services to more than 40,000 customers across the country. From coast to coast to coast, NAV CANADA offers different levels of service, depending on the amount of air traffic, mix of aircraft and other factors, but always ensuring a safe operation.
NAV CANADA’s business model is not driven by profit; we operate on a breakeven basis and ensure that all decisions being considered are made in the interest of preserving the integrity and sustainability of Canada’s air navigation system.
That means above all else, safety. Maintaining safety is why we exist. We have held ourselves to the highest national and international safety standards since our inception in 1996 as a private organisation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not deterred us from fulfilling that commitment. NAV CANADA – along with its peers in the aviation community – has had to make very difficult decisions in response to the significant negative impact COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on global air traffic and on the aviation industry. However, to suggest on the part of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, that NAV CANADA would jeopardise safety in any decision it makes is at best disingenuous and at worst irresponsible. NAV CANADA’s safety record is irrefutably one of the best in the world amongst air navigation service providers.
We took unprecedented measures to implement cost-containment measures, including, the elimination of executive positions, management salary and bonus program reductions, changes to the pension plan applicable to management, ending terms of temporary employees, negotiation of agreements with unions to suspend programs, early retirement and departure incentives, and an across the board reduction of all non-essential, non-critical activities.
We also took the unfortunate but necessary step to reduce our workforce by more than 720 positions across the country, a 14% reduction since the beginning of the pandemic.
NAV CANADA has been engaging regularly in meaningful and constructive dialogue with union leaders to find mutually acceptable terms and concessions to help the organization carefully and responsibly mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on our operations, but also to adjust and align our workforce to our new realities to help preserve the sustainability of this critical national infrastructure.
The unfounded claims and misleading assertions, made on behalf of CATCA, suggesting that NAV CANADA would jeopardize safety are unacceptable.
We unfortunately have had to make the difficult decision to reduce our roster of air traffic controllers. Based on a detailed review of air traffic pre-pandemic, the current environment and longer-term traffic forecasts, adjustments to our air traffic controller workforce are required. Under no uncertain terms, and with our strongest conviction, we confirm that NAV CANADA would never make decisions that could jeopardise safety.
All decisions are judiciously considered to ensure NAV CANADA continues to provide safe and reliable air traffic services, and to responsibly take the necessary actions to preserve the integrity and sustainability of Canada’s air navigation system.
Raymond G. Bohn
President and CEO