Shortly thereafter, Transat announced an exclusive 30-day negotiation with Air Canada. At the end of these 30 days, the airline and Air Canada issued a joint statement announcing that they had reached a final binding agreement, which was unanimously approved by Transat`s Board of Directors. The airline, which had been in discussions for some time with interested parties on an agreement, then set up a committee that, with the help of legal and financial experts, should review and evaluate the detailed proposals. In early January, before the public was informed of a possible sale of the airline, the pilots` Master Executive Council (MEC) leaders set their priorities for the year: to focus on important safety issues, including safety management systems, the timing and implementation of recently announced updates on pilot flight and duty time rules. Over the next few months, informal discussions and proposals were made between the MEC and management – until it was learned that Transat A.T., Inc. was in preliminary talks to sell the airline. The MEC has asked management to submit a fully calculated proposal, but has not yet received a response. If the CME is retained, it will work with ALPA`s economic and financial representation and analysis services to determine the benefits of each proposal. If the proposal is to be in the best interests of the pilots, the MEC will hold street performances followed by a vote to ratify the pilots. If the proposal is not in the interests of the pilot group, the MEC will continue the formal negotiations that are expected to begin this month.
Following the successes in 2018, Air Transat pilots began in 2019 with a strengthened unit, a stronger volunteer network and a number of new committee members who were ready to engage with the group of more than 600 pilots. As winter approached and the sale of the company awaited government approval, the MEC and the bargaining committee were able to turn again to the next contract negotiations. During this period, management approached the MEC to extend the current contract by one year with a salary increase. They also took the first single step in asking management if it was open to entering into early negotiations to reach a new contract before it expires in early 2020. Management stated that it was not interested in opening negotiations at this stage. Behind the scenes, pilots were also busy preparing for a possible sale. In accordance with Chapter 45 of the ALPA Management Manual, the MEC established a merger committee that also worked closely with ALPA staff, including experts in mergers, contract law and contract negotiation. Consultations began on November 4, 2019.
Transport Canada typically has up to 150 days to complete such an assessment. However, in the interests of thoroughness, Transport Canada and the Commissioner of Competition were given an additional 100 days to complete their assessment before submitting it to the Minister of Transport and preparing the decision schedule for June 2020.