Action Needed To Save Canadian Aviation Maintenance Industry <


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Action Needed To Save Canadian Aviation Maintenance Industry

By Bill Goldston

March 11, 2010 - The recent announcement by Air Canada to layoff more than one thousand aircraft maintenance mechanics is the latest indication that Canada is in danger of losing its place in this growing global industry.

“Over one thousand highly skilled aircraft mechanics at Air Canada will be laid off this April and the company doesn’t give a damn,” says a disgusted Fred Hospes, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).

“If we don’t do something right now, these jobs and this industry aren’t coming back,” declared IAMAW Canadian General Vice-President Dave Ritchie. The IAMAW is calling for an immediate response to this crisis, calling on their government to step up to this challenge.

“Air Canada has not accepted the responsibility for administering measures like an EI Worksharing program, to mitigate the damage, in this time of high unemployment,” said IAMAW District 140 President and General Chairperson Chuck Atkinson. “There also needs to be greater support for training and re-training programs to assist impacted workers and communities.”

“While the Mulroney government’s Air Canada privatization legislation contained a requirement for Air Canada to continue to have maintenance bases in Mississauga, Winnipeg and Montréal, this seems to have no appreciable effect on the company’s plans to phase out a large part of heavy maintenance work and ship it abroad, with the inherent risks of weaker regulation and lower standards,” explained Atkinson.

Canada is losing an industry which has considerable growth potential as a globally competitive industry – an industry that could provide a growing number of highly-skilled high-technology jobs for young Canadians,” said Ritchie.

Canada needs an industrial strategy to maintain and build the capacity of this sector starting with domestic procurement requirements for maintenance on Canadian registered commercial aircraft being done in Canada where possible and including support for investment to modernize equipment.”

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is the largest union at Air Canada, representing over 11,000 workers. IAMAW, among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, represents more than 700,000 active and retired members, and administers more than 5,000 contracts in transportation, woodworking, aerospace, manufacturing and defense related industries.

Air Canada is Canada's largest airline and flag carrier. The airline, founded in 1936, provides scheduled and charter air transportation for passengers and cargo to 178 destinations worldwide. Its largest hub is Toronto Pearson International Airport in Ontario. Its main base is Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Quebec.

Air Canada is the world's 8th largest passenger airline by fleet size, and the airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, an alliance of 21 member airlines formed in 1997. Air Canada's corporate headquarters are located in the Saint-Laurent area of Montreal, Quebec. The airline's parent company is the publicly traded firm ACE Aviation Holdings. Air Canada had passenger revenues of $9.7 billion (CAD) in 2008.

Canada's national airline originated from the Canadian federal government's 1936 creation of Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), which began operating its first transcontinental flight routes in 1938. In 1965, TCA was renamed Air Canada following government approval. Following the 1980s deregulation of the Canadian airline market, the airline was privatized in 1988. In 2001, Air Canada acquired its largest rival, Canadian Airlines. In 2006, 34 million people flew with Air Canada as the airline celebrated its 70th anniversary.

Air Canada operates a fleet of Boeing 777, Boeing 767, and Airbus A330 wide-body jetliners on long-haul routes, and utilizes Airbus A320 family aircraft, including the A319, A320, and A321 variations and Embraer E170/E190 family aircraft on short-haul routes. The carrier's cargo operating divisions include Air Canada Cargo and Air Canada Jetz. Its subsidiary, Air Canada Vacations, also provides vacation packages to over 90 destinations. Together with its regional carriers, the airline operates on average more than 1,370 scheduled flights daily.

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