Efforts are underway in Quebec to resuscitate Aveos Fleet Performance Inc., the aircraft maintenance firm that abruptly shut down last month, leaving 2,600 jobless.
A coalition of business, government and union leaders is working behind the scenes to secure new investors.
Two major Quebec investment groups – le Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Investissement Québec – are reportedly part of the coalition.
The coalition is said to be courting international aviation companies such as Lufthansa Teknik to acquire the Aveos facility in Dorval.
Former Aveos aircraft technician Dimitrios Beltekas said he's not too hopeful another firm will step in. He noted that Air Canada president Calin Rovinescu told a parliamentary committee in late March that Aveos' heavy maintenance department – where Beltekas worked for the last seven months of his career – was not efficient.
"He said that we weren't efficient," Beltekas repeated. "Yet I was pretty efficient for 17 and a half years with Air Canada. The last seven months, I guess, that's when everything went bad."
NEED TO KNOW
- Aveos closed its three main plants in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. Other facilities closed include Edmonton, Calgary, and Trenton and Mississauga in Ontario.
- 1,785 unionized workers laid off in Montreal, 412 in Winnipeg, 356 in Vancouver.
Aveos shut its doors in mid-March because of an order slowdown worth millions in revenue.
The firm filed for creditor protection March 19, started liquidating its assets and laid off 2,600 unionized employees.
The sudden closure prompted waves of worker protests and legal threats.
The federal government is seeking a legal opinion on whether Air Canada broke any legal obligations with respect to the maintenance firm.
A House of Commons committeee is reviewing the closure to determine whether it violates federal legislation governing the airline.
Aveos was once Air Canada's technical services division, but evolved into a separate company in 2007 when the airline ceased operating as a Crown corporation.
The Air Canada Participation Act was enacted when the airline became a private company, requiring that it maintain operational and overhaul centres in Montreal, Mississauga and Winnipeg.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest has threatened to sue Ottawa over the Aveos shutdown.
Job fair for Aveos workers
Meanwhile, laid-off Aveos workers organized their own job fair near Trudeau airport in Montreal on Monday, inviting their former colleagues to meet major airline company recruiters.
The fairs attracted hundreds of former Aveos aircraft mechanics and other employees and 22 recruiting agencies, including Fuze HR Inc.
"There are a lot of supply chain jobs open right now – that's one of our specialties," said Fuze recruiter Fred Brierly. "Logistics and planning is also a big area."
"It's a little bit of a bright light," said Barry Drennan, a lead mechanic with 25 years' experience in the airline industry.
Brennan went to the job fair hoping to find a management opportunity, drawing on his long years of experience and what he called a "diversified" background.
"I'm hoping to take those skills and make them the foundation" for a new opportunity, he said.
A second event with some 18 prospective employers, including several in the aerospace industry, will follow on April 12.