Air Canada layoffs 51 in Winnipeg

Fifty-one Air Canada employees in Winnipeg are losing their jobs over the next month as part of the lingering after-effects of the airline's 2007 decision to spin off its technical services division.

Six of the layoffs will take effect Friday and the other 45 on Feb. 19, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. The affected employees include sheet-metal workers, electricians and aircraft mechanics.

The employees work at the former Air Canada Technical Services division's St. James aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, which now operates under the name Aveos Fleet Performance Inc.

Air Canada converted the division into a stand-alone operation in 2007. Most of those workers are former Air Canada employees who decided to transfer to Aveos.

Fitzpatrick said the workers who didn't make the jump had been given until last July to decide whether to leave Air Canada, retire, or remain with the airline in hopes of landing a job elsewhere within its Canadian operations by bumping a less senior employee. The International Machinists and Aerospace Workers union challenged the company's moves in court, but lost the case last year.

The remaining Air Canada workers opted to stay with the company, but had remained on loan to Aveos since July because there was still enough work at the Winnipeg plant to keep them busy.

But an Aveos spokeswoman said Wednesday that's no longer the case. She said the facility will have a staff of about 309 after the 51 leave.

Fitzpatrick said Air Canada has no place for the last 51 workers within its remaining aircraft maintenance operations, which is why they're being laid off.

He said they can go onto the company's employee-recall list, but there's no way of knowing if they'll ever be recalled.

Or they can apply for a different type of job within Air Canada.

One of the workers, who asked not to be identified, said in an interview he didn't take a job with Aveos last summer because he's just a few years away from retiring. If he had taken early retirement from Air Canada to join Aveos, he would have taken a big hit on his pension.

He said it made more sense for him to stay in hopes he could find another job within Air Canada's operations.

Now he hopes he can use his seniority to land a different type of job elsewhere within the airline's Winnipeg operations, possibly as a baggage handler.

The worker said he also didn't want to take a job with Aveos because its aircraft maintenance contract with Air Canada expires next year.

The Winnipeg facility performs maintenance and repair work on Air Canada's fleet of narrow-bodied Airbus plane, and that's all it does.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press