Air Canada CEO Wants Ex-Aveos Jobs to Stay in Canada

The head of Air Canada told a parliamentary committee Thursday that he hopes heavy maintenance companies will hire the terminated workers from defunct Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. to meet the airline's aircraft overhaul needs in Canada.

Calin Rovinescu says the airline has already had preliminary discussions with several Canadian and foreign maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies about opportunities inside the country.

The country's largest air carrier says there is a large pool of skilled talent that could be hired to operate in four centres: Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver.

It would favour MROs that keep the work in Canada because it doesn't want the added burden of sending its planes overseas.

Rovinescu told the standing committee on transportation, infrastructure and communities that he has "tremendous sympathy" for 2,600 workers who lost their jobs when Aveos abruptly closed and moved to liquidate last week.

He added the airline believes it is fully compliant with the Air Canada Participation Act, the legislation introduced when it became a private company, because it operates its own maintenance work in the country and has no plans to reintegrate the employees its former maintenance division, became a private company itself in 2007.

Aveos employees contend that legislation compels the airline to keep maintenance jobs in Canada. The law doesn't say who has to do the work.

But the Air Canada chief executive says he doesn't like the way Aveos dealt with the situation, which hurt workers and the airline.

He said Aveos' problems stemmed from its inability to attract customers other than Air Canada, which provided more than 90 per cent of the maintenance company's revenues.

NDP member Olivia Chow told Rovinescu that workers feel betrayed by Air Canada's decision to sell its heavy maintenance business and push employees months ago to Aveos.

The Conservative majority rejected an opposition motion to summon Aveos' CEO to appear before the committee.

The company has refused to testify and explain how its business deteriorated so much.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport Pierre Poilievre said the government has no intention of providing a bailout to a company that he said burned through $1 billion over five years and still went bankrupt.

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