(Toronto) Air Canada pilots are protesting at Toronto’s Pearson Airport on Friday to demand better wages and working conditions as negotiations with the country’s largest carrier continue.

The Airline Pilots Association, which represents more than 5,000 Air Canada pilots, began the bargaining process in June, a day after its unionized WestJet pilots ratified a new collective agreement.

The union and employer explained that the informational picket at Terminal 1, which comes on the same day their own nine-year agreement expires, would have no impact on the Air Canada flight schedule.

No strike is imminent, the pilots’ association stressed.

Charlene Hudy, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association Council of National Elected Officials, said the agreement has become obsolete as several colleagues leave the company for better pay in the United States.

“We are fighting to obtain this world-class contract that Air Canada pilots deserve,” she said, calling the wage gap south of the border “unacceptable.”

“There was a point in 2013 when we were quite comparable – almost on par – with our counterparts at United. But starting next year, United Airlines pilots will earn 92 percent more,” she noted.

Between March and September, pilots at Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines reached deals providing four-year pay increases ranging from 34% to 40%.

Since striking a deal in 2014, Air Canada pilots have received a 2% pay increase each year.

Hudy also highlighted career advancement and job security as other points of contention.

Air Canada maintains that it remains engaged in productive discussions with the union and that the provisions of the agreement remain in effect.

“We are committed to reaching a fair, negotiated settlement with our group of pilots,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email.

In late May, the union invoked a clause to end its 10-year collective bargaining agreement a year early and begin negotiations for a new one. Two weeks later, the company delivered a notice to negotiate to company management, the first step toward reaching a new agreement.

The union’s decision came after 1,800 pilots at WestJet and its low-cost subsidiary Swoop ratified a new deal that puts them on a uniform pay scale, giving flight crews a 24 percent pay increase over four years and leading to the closure of Swoop at the end of October.

Experts say the deal sets a new standard in Canadian aviation, one that will bring pilots closer to U.S. pay levels and increase costs for airlines still recovering from hundreds of millions of dollars in losses during the pandemic.

The Air Canada talks also come as airlines face intense domestic and cross-border competition from ultra-low-cost carriers such as Flair Airlines and Lynx Air, and as labor shortages continue to crack down on the sector.