Collective action of former Aveos employees | Air Canada did not buy C Series to make Aveos forget, says Rovinescu

Collective action of former Aveos employees | Air Canada did not buy C Series to make Aveos forget, says Rovinescu
Collective action of former Aveos employees | Air Canada did not buy C Series to make Aveos forget, says Rovinescu

Did Air Canada use the C Series in 2016 to turn the page on Aveos’ debacle? No, according to Calin Rovinescu, the big boss of the air carrier at the time. However, the company had made it clear to the Quebec government that it was interested in the aircraft designed by Bombardier.

Posted on October 15, 2021 at 4:31 p.m.

Julien arsenault

The question arose on Friday at the trial of the collective action of at least 150 million brought by former employees of the maintenance specialist who disappeared in 2012 against the company, which is in its second week.

“I can tell you that we made it clear to everyone that we love the aircraft, but that we would proceed with its purchase with more predictability on [certaines] questions, ”Mr. Rovinescu explained to Judge Marie-Christine Hivon, during her cross-examination by the prosecution.

The one who bowed out at the head of Air Canada last February was heard by videoconference, since he was in Toronto. His testimony was conducted in English.

According to Mr. Rovinescu, the C Series, a program now controlled by Airbus and renamed A220, has not served as a bargaining chip to convince the Quebec government to abandon its legal proceedings against the most important air carrier in the country.


Calin Rovinescu, former CEO of Air Canada

We weren’t buying the plane because we were settling the dispute. This is one of the elements that should be emphasized here.

Calin Rovinescu, former CEO of Air Canada

However, knowing that Quebec would turn the page on the dispute, it became easier to undertake to carry out heavy maintenance of the devices, explained the witness. When announcing the order, Air Canada argued that this should lead to the establishment of a “center of excellence”.

In 2015, the Quebec Court of Appeal confirmed that Air Canada had to maintain its maintenance centers in three cities in Canada, including Montreal. The airline then turned to the Supreme Court. However, the Quebec government has since ended its recourse.

Long saga

Struggling with financial difficulties and a decrease in the volume of work from Air Canada – its main customer, which represented 90% of its revenues – Aveos abruptly closed its maintenance centers in Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga in March 2012. Suddenly, some 2,600 jobs, including 1,800 in Quebec, were lost.

The event triggered a series of lawsuits against the airline, which was accused of not respecting federal law.

Quebec and Ottawa had agreed to turn the page in 2016 when the airline ordered 45 C Series aircraft. Quebec had ended its lawsuit, and Ottawa had undertaken to modify the law that led to the privatization of Air Canada to relax the conditions governing the maintenance of its aircraft.

The center of excellence still does not exist, while the firm order of 45 aircraft has been revised to 33 aircraft.

The collective action concerns the period from 2012 to 2016, the year in which the federal law was amended. The complainants also want to demonstrate that Air Canada deliberately caused the closure of the maintenance company by its actions.

During cross-examination, the prosecution asked Mr. Rovinescu whether the purchase of the C Series and the commitment to perform heavy maintenance on the aircraft represented the “counterpart” of its agreement with the Quebec government, which had agreed to cease legal proceedings.

Lawyers for Air Canada observed that this violated the privilege of a third party, the Quebec state, concerned by the matter. After much debate, Justice Hivon decided that was not the case.

Asked to answer questions from Air Canada’s lawyers, Mr. Rovinescu rejected out of hand the thesis that the air carrier had deliberately planned the debacle of Aveos, a former subsidiary that had become independent and in which the air carrier owned a 17.5% stake.

There has never been such a plan. It’s a bit of an absurd suggestion, I would say. We wanted Aveos to survive. Air Canada supported the restructuring in 2010 [d’Aveos] to give it time to become more competitive, reduce costs and improve performance.

Calin Rovinescu, former CEO of Air Canada

As the current President and CEO of Air Canada, Michael Rousseau, who held the position of CFO in 2012, did Thursday, Mr. Rovinescu presented the maintenance specialist as a company facing significant financial challenges as well as productivity issues.

The trial is due to continue until the end of the month.

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