Quebec could sue Air Canada, Ottawa over Aveos

Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:59pm EDT
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By Allison Martell and David Ljunggren

(Reuters) - Quebec's government said on Wednesday it was considering taking legal action against both Air Canada and the federal government to keep operations going at the Montreal facility that services the airline's planes.

The facility, once part of Air Canada's own maintenance unit, was operated by Aveos Fleet Performance Inc, a private company that obtained bankruptcy protection on Monday. It ceased Canadian operations and laid off all of its 2,600 Canadian employees, most of them on Tuesday. That included 1,700 workers in Montreal.

"We will do all, all, all we can to keep the operations open, to see how we can help the workers and the company," Quebec Premier Jean Charest told the province's legislature.

"We will examine all the options available, including the possibility of taking legal action against the federal government."

Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel said late on Wednesday that the government was receiving advice on Air Canada's obligations under the law that has governed its operations since its 1988 privatization.

"Aveos's decisions are those of a private company. The law is the law. The Air Canada Public Participation Act requires Air Canada to maintain operational and overhaul centres in Montreal, Mississauga and Winnipeg," Lebel said in a brief conference call with reporters.

Asked whether Aveos's closure meant the airline was in violation of the law, Lebel said he was not saying that: "We are examining the advice we receive, but for now, nobody is saying that."

Responding in a statement, Air Canada said it was in full compliance with the law.   Continued...

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft is seen during a media preview at an Air Canada hangar at Pearson Toronto International Airport in Toronto, March 2, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch