The Quebec government says it's open to providing financial support to potential new owners of the insolvent aircraft maintenance company Aveos, as long as it's a viable business that sustains jobs in Montreal.
"We will favour a viable business model that permits to create and maintain activities in Montreal," Economic Development Minister Sam Hamad told reporters shortly before a Quebec judge approved a two-month process to sell off Aveos's assets.
Potential bidders will have until May 29 — five weeks — to prepare their offers for Aveos Fleet Performance's three business lines.
Selected bidders will then have about 10 days to finalize their offers and waive any conditions, according to a motion that was heard Friday in Quebec Superior Court by Justice Mark Schrager.
Hamad wouldn't specify what kind of financial support the Liberal government was considering. But he said the priority is to maintain jobs and ensure a long-term solution is reached.
"Taxpayers won't pay for nothing. There will be financial returns in Quebec, there will be jobs in Montreal. That's what is important."
23 interested bidders
Aveos, which had been Air Canada's largest aircraft repair and overhaul provider, laid off more than 2,600 employees across the country March 20 as it filed for bankruptcy protection. The firm, which got up to 90 per cent of its work from Air Canada, said it was forced to shut down "due to uncertain work volume across its business lines" from the airline.
The move initially threatened to disrupt Air Canada flights, as it had half a dozen planes sitting in Aveos maintenance facilities across the country. The airline eventually found other companies to do maintenance on its planes, although at least one those companies isn't unionized, leading to accusations from labour leaders that workers were being undermined.
Some 23 potential bidders have expressed an interest in acquiring some or all of Montreal-based Aveos's assets, with Germany-based Lufthansa Tecknik expected to be among the leaders. In addition to having solid financing, potential buyers need to provide details on the proposed number of unionized and non-union employees it will have.
A committee representing the city of Montreal, the provincial government, Investissement Quebec and the Quebec Federation of Labour Solidarity Fund are working to help relaunch Aveos' activities.
Air Canada has committed to collaborate with the process — though Quebec is also suing the airline under the federal Air Canada Public Participation Act to ensure that about 2,000 aircraft maintenance jobs stay in Montreal once the dust settles on Aveos's bankruptcy process.