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Air Canada Rouge hiring hundreds of flight attendants as it adds western base

MONTREAL - Air Canada Rouge plans to hire hundreds of additional flight attendants this year as it prepares to launch service this spring out of Calgary and Vancouver and expand its fleet.

The Air Canada subsidiary, which launched last summer, expects to expand its workforce to 650 by the end of the year when its number of aircraft increases to 33.

The airline currently employs 220 workers. Another 110 begin training next week in Toronto and Montreal.

"We're creating good jobs in major Canadian cities for young people and we're excited about doing that and so far the customer response to our crews has been very positive," said Renee Smith-Valade, vice-president customer experience.

Rouge said it has received great interest from young people despite the 20 per cent lower starting wage than the mainline carrier (TSX:AC.B). Rouge employees earn a starting salary of about $25,000 per year including per diem and benefits for a minimum of 75 flying hours or 12 days per month.

Smith-Valade said Rouge has garnered interest because unlike most starting flight attendants, they won't fly domestic or short regional routes.

"For Rouge crew who start with us they're immediately flying international routes, so that's attractive," she said in an interview from Vancouver.

More than 16,000 resumes have been received and several thousand more are expected to be submitted for Western Canada.

Those working on routes out of Calgary will shuttle from the base in Vancouver on Air Canada flights.

The airline's fleet will grow as Air Canada receives its new Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft.

Rouge started last July with four planes and added six more at the end of last year.

The fleet is slated to increase to 16 planes by April when it has about 440 employees will be on board.

Air Canada is counting on Rouge to help generate strong profits because of its lower operating costs.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, the airline's shares, which tripled last year, closed down three cents at $8.77 in Tuesday trading.

The Canadian Press

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