Air Canada reported a technical issue with its flight communications system on Thursday, causing delays across the country for the second time in a week.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, the Montreal-based company said it was experiencing a “temporary technical issue” with the system it uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor the performance of its operations.
By Thursday afternoon, the airline said the system had “begun to stabilize,” though flights were expected to be impacted for the remainder of the day.
“The communicator system has begun to stabilize, and aircraft continue to move although still at a lower than normal rate. As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” Air Canada said.
“Customers are advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport as we anticipate the impact will persist through the balance of the day.”
As a result of the system failure, the airline said it implemented a “flexible policy,” allowing customers who wished to change their travel plans to do so at no cost.
Speaking to reporters before question period, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the federal government has been in touch with Air Canada and is encouraging the airline to get its communications system back up and running “as quickly as possible.”
“They understand the consequences of these delays and we’ll keep following up on the situation,” said Alghabra.
The system failure caused delays for the majority of flights scheduled to depart from the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Thursday morning, said Michel Rosset, communications manager for the Winnipeg Airports Authority.
Some Air Canada flights in the afternoon and evening were scheduled to run on time at the Winnipeg airport, but Rosset advised passengers to look online for updated flight information as that could change.
“With flights, even on a good day, things could change pretty quickly. So I’d recommend, if you’re looking for updated (flight information) throughout the day, the best bet is just to head to our website,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Leah Batstone, communications and marketing advisor for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, said the Halifax airport was aware of the “IT issue” that Air Canada was experiencing and recommended passengers to keep tabs on their flight status.
“As always, travellers are advised to check their flight status directly with their airline before coming to the airport,” Batstone said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca.
Air Canada was forced to ground its planes last week due to a similar problem with its communications system, which delayed nearly half its flights.
The airline said the issue it experienced this Thursday was in the “same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”
“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future,” it said.
“We apologize for the impact on our customers and appreciate their patience. We are working hard to get people on their way as soon as possible.”