Air Canada Plane Maintainer Files For Protection

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Published: March 19, 2012

The private company that maintains some of Air Canada’s fleet filed for creditor protection on Monday and told thousands of employees across Canada that operations at their facilities had ceased.

Aveos Fleet Performance, once the in-house maintenance division at Air Canada, became an independent company in 2007. It has roughly 3,300 employees spread across the country at facilities in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

A legal source familiar with the matter said the filing for creditor protection took place in Montreal. It seeks an initial order from the court that would grant Aveos protection under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

Air Canada, which itself is locked in disputes with its pilots and other unions, said the events at Aveos, while disappointing, would have no impact on its day-to-day aircraft maintenance and repair activities.

“The airline’s line maintenance has always been performed directly by Air Canada, at the airline’s own facilities by Air Canada’s 2,300 maintenance employees. The airline typically performs its line maintenance activities overnight or between flights, as necessary,” Air Canada said in a brief statement.

Air Canada said Aveos has been providing it with airframe, engine and component work, which is typically pre-planned. The company said it has a contingency plan to ensure continuity of this work.

“Should Aveos not be in a position to perform work, the airline is prepared to make arrangements with a number of other service providers, located primarily in the United States and Canada,” said Air Canada, adding that it had been advised of the creditor protection filing.

The airline sought to deflect any criticism that its own financial plight had caused Aveos’s creditor protection filing, saying it “has been meeting all of its financial and legal obligations of its contractual arrangements with Aveos.”

Air Canada, which is in dispute with its unions as it seeks to cut costs and change the way it operates, said on Sunday it was asking Canada’s Industrial Relations Board to investigate an unusually large number of sick calls from its pilots.

WORKERS SHUT OUT

Aveos workers arrived at work on Sunday and Monday to signs that said their facilities had “ceased operations,” the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) union, which represents a large number of Aveos employees, said.

“I’ve just been on the phone talking to our people across the country, and it’s the same everywhere,” IAMAW spokesman Bill Trbovich said.

Trbovich said the union’s lawyers had informed him that workers in the heavy maintenance group, the bulk of IAMAW’s 2,700 members at Aveos, would be laid off permanently.

“We have more questions than we have answers,” he said, adding that the union had not heard from the company directly. Aveos could not be reached for comment.

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