(Quebec) Air Canada has “demonstrated that it is not interested in regional air transport”, says Pierre Fitzgibbon. The Minister of Economy and Energy pleads to “find an alternative” to the carrier’s service, such as helping other companies financially.

Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon reacted to the exit of the Aluminerie Alouette, which said it was “irritated” and “limited” by Air Canada’s service in Sept-Îles. La Presse reported on Tuesday that the unreliability of the airline’s service is now hampering the “smooth running of operations” of the largest aluminum smelter in the Americas and the “implementation” of its development projects.

“Air Canada hasn’t served that area well, I think that’s clear,” the minister said when he arrived for question period on Tuesday.

Senior management at Aluminerie Alouette, which employs some 900 workers in Sept-Îles, wrote a letter to Air Canada expressing their dissatisfaction. We cite the “limitation of supply”, such as the end of the Sept-Îles-Quebec route, the schedules “inflexible and not adapted to the reality of businesses” and the “recurrence of delays, postponements and cancellations of flights without notice “.

To date, the missive from the smelter has remained unanswered.

“Air Canada, it is clear, has demonstrated that it is not interested in regional air travel. We have to find an alternative,” said Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon. “Maybe there are carriers who want to offer additional services that we could help financially. We must use existing companies, ”said the minister without going any further.

In the latest Girard budget, Quebec set aside $10 million to extend emergency assistance to regional air carriers.

According to Minister Fitzgibbon, the obstacles encountered by Alouette highlight “the fact that we have to deal with regional air transport”. In this regard, he recalls the work carried out by the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, and the government deputy responsible for air transport and deputy for René-Lévesque, on the North Shore, Yves Montigny.

Created in February, the new Standing Committee on Regional Air Transport, of which Air Canada is a member, is due to make its first recommendations on April 1, 2024. This table is also “the best place” to question Air Canada on the reliability of their service, underlined for her part, the minister responsible for the North Shore, Kateri Champagne Jourdain.

“There must be improvements in service, that’s for sure,” assured the minister who lives in Sept-Îles. “I travel every week, there are certainly solutions to be found to improve service,” she added.

La Presse reported at the end of March that despite the grand launch of $500 subsidized tickets by the Legault government last year, air service is worse than ever in the regions. Quebec has no “accurate portrait” of the reliability of regional service.

Data compiled by the airline data firm Cirium at the request of La Presse revealed, as of March 30, that Air Canada has canceled nearly 19% of its flights since the beginning of the year at Sept-Îles airport. . About 4 out of 10 flights did not take off on time in Sept-Îles.