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Air Canada Customers Satisfied with Bilingual Service Delivery

MONTREAL, Feb. 4, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Air Canada customers are highly satisfied in general with the airline's ability to deliver service in their choice of English or French according to a survey of more than 2,600 of its customers conducted earlier this year by Ipsos Reid.

Ninety-one per cent of Air Canada customers said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied in general with Air Canada's ability to deliver service in their official language of choice.  In addition, the majority of customers surveyed, 56 per cent anglophone and 57 per cent francophone, said they believed Air Canada has improved its bilingual service delivery in the past year.  Air Canada is the only Canadian airline subject to the federal Official Languages Act.

"We are encouraged with what our customers are telling us," said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Air Canada's Vice President, Human Resources and Co-Champion of Official Languages. "As one of Canada's most bilingual corporations, we take our linguistic responsibilities seriously and are proud of our commitment to serve customers in the official language of their choice.  We have worked many years to continuously improve our bilingual service offering, and we will continue to do so with the interest of our customers in mind."

Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline serving more than 185 destinations on five continents.  Canada's flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2013 served more than 38 million customers.  Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 61 Canadian cities, 50 destinations in the United States and 77 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world's most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,321 airports in 193 countries.  Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax that ranked Air Canada in a worldwide survey of more than 18 million airline passengers as Best Airline in North America in 2014 for the fifth consecutive year.  For more information, please visit: www.aircanada.com.

Background Information on Air Canada's linguistic initiatives:

When recruiting new employees who will interact with the public, we focus on hiring bilingual candidates. However, the greatest challenge is hiring qualified personnel outside of Quebec, the National Capital Region and Moncton. Outside of these three regions, the challenge is the lack of bilingual candidates to fill vacated positions – despite the fact that we contact Francophone organizations and advertise jobs in newspapers with a Francophone minority readership. The last government census in fact reported the declining number of bilingual people outside of Quebec which poses a challenge for Air Canada, one for which we have very limited ability to address.

We undertake numerous initiatives to ensure employees are fully aware of Air Canada's official languages obligations and to improve customer service. These are some of them:

  • We offer new employees awareness sessions and we tour Canada with open house days, promoting our language training programs and raising employees' awareness of our bilingual service and active offer.
  • In an effort to standardize its bilingual service in Canada and in some foreign cities, Air Canada has implemented numerous automated systems that offer the same standard of quality services in both official languages; for example, airport self-service kiosks, used by clients for numerous transactions, the mobile app and the website. We keep up with evolving technology to find new ways of improving our service delivery.
  • To increase our results in a very competitive market (particularly for bilingual candidates outside of Quebec), we have expanded our presence in Francophone communities across Canada by participating in career fairs organized by Francophone centres and in other events (e.g. the ACFA, and the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie). We have already noted an improvement in some regions, such as Alberta.
  • We have for many years had a language evaluation system to help monitor the language skills of new hires and employees based on established corporate standards.
  • Every two years, we re-evaluate employees to be sure that they are maintaining their language skills. Should employees cease to qualify, we offer them a training plan to help rebuild their language skills.
  • In addition to the vast range of courses we already offer (e.g., skills maintenance, beginners, announcements and individualized coaching), we have developed online training modules that are much more flexible for employees who work various shifts.
  • Our Air Canada Express partners, like Sky Regional, hire mainly bilingual employees and offer language training to employees who are not fully bilingual.

For over the past 10 years, the number of complaints received by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has dropped, demonstrating that our efforts are succeeding. Whereas passenger numbers continue to rise, complaint numbers are falling:

  • 2001 saw 143 complaints for about 22 million passengers served;
  • 2009 saw 51 complaints for 31 million passengers; 
  • 2013 saw 51 complaints for 35 million passengers;
  • 2014 saw 49 complaints for over 38 million passengers;
  • Every passenger has about six interactions with Air Canada employees, which translates to 49 complaints for over 228 million passenger-employee exchanges (less than three millionths of one per cent).


SOURCE Air Canada

For further information: Isabelle Arthur (Montréal), 514 422-5788; Peter Fitzpatrick (Toronto), 416 263-5576; Angela Mah,(Vancouver), 604 270-5741; Internet : aircanada.com