When the Transportation Safety Board found that several factors, including pilot fatigue, contributed to a 2011 incident aboard an Air Canada plane that sent seven passengers to hospital in Switzerland, it was the latest woe for the air carrier, its employees and companies that work closely with it.

The TSB report came as the airline deals with a protest by pilots, and less than a month after Air Canada baggage handlers and ground staff held a wildcat strike on March 23, 2012.

Here's a look at some of the difficulties Air Canada has faced over the past few years.

Disputes with pilots and ground staff

Air Canada cancelled more than 50 flights from major Canadian centres on April 13, 2012, after some pilots called in sick to protest being forced back to work by federal legislation. The action came about a month after Labour Minister Lisa Raitt asked the Canadian Industrial Relations Board on March 8 to investigate the airline's disputes with two of its unions — pilots and ground staff — a move intended to buy time to reach an agreement and avert a threatened strike and lockout.

Four days later, the federal government introduced back-to-work legislation to ensure there was no work stoppage. On March 20, Air Canada pilots challenged the legislation, asking Ontario's Superior Court to rule that the law breaches their charter rights.

Credit rating downgraded


About 100 angry Air Canada flight attendents equipped with whistles stage a noisy demonstration at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal on Oct.13, 2011. (Peter Ray/Canadian Press)

Moody's Investor Service cut Air Canada's credit rating on April 3, 2012. The move put the new rating at Caa1, down from B3, and came as Moody's said it believed there was an increased possibility the airline could default on its debt obligations.

Maintenance company goes bankrupt

Aveos Fleet Performance Inc, a private company that maintains many of Air Canada's aircraft, filed for bankruptcy protection on March 19, 2012, as hundreds of its workers, enraged by the sudden shutdown, blocked access to the airline's head office near Montreal's Trudeau Airport. Less than a month after filing, a coalition of business, government and union leaders was working behind the scenes to secure new investors.

Dispute with flight attendants

The union representing 6,800 Air Canada flight attendants cancelled a strike planned for Oct. 12, 2011, after the Canada Industrial Relations Board said employees must remain on the job while their contract dispute is being reviewed. On Nov. 7, the union said it was "profoundly" disappointed by an arbitrator's decision in the dispute.

Dispute with customer service and support staff

Air Canada customer service and sales staff returned to work on June 17, 2011, a day after a tentative agreement was reached three days into a walkout. News of the tentative deal came shortly after the federal government tabled back-to-work legislation.


Air Canada announced plans on June 17, 2008, to eliminate 2,000 jobs and reduce its capacity, joining a list of airlines that were cutting back in the face of higher fuel prices.

Dispute with ground crews

A four-hour labour dispute by ground crews at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Jan. 19, 2005, forced Air Canada to cancel at least 19 flights.

Maintenance worker layoffs

On Jan. 14, 2005, Air Canada laid off about 180 maintenance workers in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal.