Evidence of meeting #44 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was air.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:55 a.m.

Senior Director, Engines and Airframe Maintenance, Air Canada

Michel Bissonnette

To gain employment, they need to have an aircraft maintenance engineering licence for the airframe side of the business.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

So it's going to be fairly difficult to just up and move away from where these clusters of highly skilled workers are.

11:55 a.m.

Senior Director, Engines and Airframe Maintenance, Air Canada

Michel Bissonnette

I can't answer that question.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

I think most--

11:55 a.m.

Senior Director, Engines and Airframe Maintenance, Air Canada

Michel Bissonnette

I do know where the people are available today.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

I understand that, but I think most business people, from what you've just answered, would say that it's fairly difficult.

Now, do you feel that under these articles of participation you're at a cost disadvantage relative to some of your Canadian competitors? Have you done any calculations as far as what the articles of continuance cause, as far as a cost disadvantage, to Canadian and I guess international competitors?

11:55 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

It would be very difficult to quantify, because we don't have access to the arrangements, commercially, that a carrier like WestJet, for instance, has to go out and sort of determine, on a going forward basis, where the lowest cost for them to do maintenance is.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

But you would know what your cost could be if you didn't have these obligations. You wouldn't directly use their numbers. You would use, theoretically, what you could get in the open market without these encumbrances.

11:55 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

That's making a long series of assumptions about the workforce and the capacity that would be available and the actual metrics. One of the fundamental limitations in moving maintenance work is that you're actually moving the aircraft a good distance. Our maintenance bases in Montreal and Toronto and Winnipeg line up very nicely.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

My point is that it would be difficult to meet at the best of times.

11:55 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

This goes to the Aeroman question, in El Salvador. It doesn't make a lot of sense to fly an aircraft to El Salvador to have it serviced. It's a fairly obvious calculation to make. In addition to any sort of bottom-line costs, you'd actually have to figure in the loss of productivity of the actual apparatus itself.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you, Mr. Trost.

We'll go to Mr. Byrne.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank Monsieur Guimond for providing us with a backdrop to this discussion. There is a historical perspective, a lens that needs to be provided to this. Also, the spirit or the intent of Parliament obviously has to be examined.

To Mr. Jean, I welcome your references to the current financial performance of Air Canada and its contribution to Canadian society. Perhaps if we as a committee also went back and asked our analysts, Mr. Chair, through you, to provide the historical perspective of why it is that the Air Canada Public Participation Act was actually drafted and passed by Parliament, perhaps we'd get a view, then, if included in that analysis would be the amount of public money that was put into Air Canada to actually create the position so that it could be in the commercial environment that it is today.

I have to say to the witnesses, though, through you, Mr. Chair, that lambs are becoming lions on this issue as a result of some of the testimony we're hearing this morning. I am extremely intrigued that senior representatives, or anyone coming before a parliamentary committee from the company, would not be able to answer basic, raw questions on the Air Canada Public Participation Act related to the ongoing operations of three maintenance centres. It gives parliamentarians somewhat of a cue that something is up.

I am intrigued by the way the company has structured its business. You outsource to a private contractor, yet it's Air Canada that pays the salaries of the contractor's employees. You don't feel as though there's any obligation on the part of Aveos, it's all on Air Canada, yet you cannot tell us whether or not there is anything built into the contract between Air Canada and Aveos to maintain Air Canada's obligations.

If I were a shareholder listening to this testimony, I'd be asking myself a very serious question. If Aveos decides to pull its operations out of those three centres, would Air Canada still be obligated to fulfill its contract with Aveos and the hundreds of millions of dollars that are implied therein? Would it then also have to open up brand new maintenance centres in those three urban centres to be able to maintain its obligations under the act?

Noon

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

That's a hypothetical situation. Right now Aveos is there. The employees are assigned. They're Air Canada-assigned employees--that's why we pay the salary--until the determination by the Canada Industrial Relations Board. Then there will be a determination of what happens next. As well, there are contracts in both directions. Air Canada provides back office functions for Aveos. We provide them payroll support, assistance.

Noon

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

You have nothing in your contract, though. The fact that you can't answer the question, I have to admit, gives me a strong indication that there is nothing in the contract between Air Canada and Aveos to maintain those facilities in those three designated statutory centres. I'll just leave it there and pass over the questions to my colleague.