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Air Canada urges potential buyers to revive Aveos

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac as many baggage handlers walked off the job at Pierre Trudeau airport in Montreal, March 23, 2012.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Air Canada chief executive officer Calin Rovinescu said the airline is encouraging aircraft maintenance companies to look at insolvent Aveos Fleet Performance Inc.'s operations in hopes that potential new owners might revive a portion of Aveos's business in Canada.

Mr. Rovinescu said Thursday that Air Canada has a "strong preference" to reassign work to a global player that will be able to take advantage of Aveos's former plants in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver – sites that the heavy maintenance firm closed last week.

He made the comments during a webcast of the Commons committee on transport in Ottawa. Examples of maintenance, repair and overhaul firms that are capable of supplying some of the contract work in Canada for the airline include MTU Aero Engines, General Engine Services and Lufthansa Technik.

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Last week, Aveos shut down, laying off more than 2,600 workers. The company was formerly a division of Air Canada, but private equity owners acquired a majority of Aveos in 2007 and then lenders ended up in control in 2010.

Mr. Rovinescu also reiterated that the country's largest airline is fully complying with the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which requires the carrier to "maintain operational and overhaul centres" in Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga. Transport Canada said Thursday that Air Canada has not violated the act.

Jamie Nicholls, the NDP deputy critic for transport, said he isn't impressed by "Air Canada, its army of lawyers and the Conservatives." He said overhaul services are much more complex than routine operational maintenance, insisting that the airline is still "required by law to maintain both."

Meanwhile, Air Canada suspended its complaint against the Air Canada Pilots Association for allegedly authorizing members to call in sick, disrupting flights. The airline said it requested that the Canada Industrial Relations Board "hold this file in abeyance."

Air Canada alleged that it witnessed a spike in the number of pilots who called in sick recently – 249 on the weekend of March 17-18, compared with 152 in the third weekend of March last year. As well, the number of pilots who signed up to be available for overtime work tumbled to 50 during March 1-26, compared with 285 in the same period of 2011, the carrier said.

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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