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Air Canada could reach pilot deal by limiting scope: union

Feb. 21, 2012, Toronto - Air Canada's pilots union says a deal could be reached to create a low-cost carrier if the airline satisfies concerns about the "hollowing out'' of the mainline carrier.


February 21, 2012
By The Canadian Press

Capt. Paul Strachan said the airline's 3,000 pilots need to see a roadmap about how the airline sees the new carrier operating over the next five to 10 years.

Failing to include Canadian pilots would simply mean proceeding with "a Trojan Horse on wages and working conditions, which is really not in anybody's best interests,'' he said.

The low-cost carrier would look artificially profitable if the mainline airline is weighed down with fixed costs while revenues are moved to the new entity, he said in an interview.

That's the situation happening in Australia between Qantas Airlines and low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, which Air Canada
has said is one of the models it is considering. The effort is to get around pilot union scope clauses that limit who can
fly its planes.

Air Canada declined to comment on its efforts and reports that it has a team of 60 employees and 30 consultants and
lawyers assessing the situation.

Other points of disagreement are possible pension changes and the desire by the airline to raise the mandatory retirement age.

Pilots are in the midst of federally mediated talks with Air Canada to avert a labour stoppage and reach a new collective agreement.

Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu is determined to create a new lower cost business model to help the carrier ensure its long-term profitability to compete against rivals such as Air Transat WestJet Airlines and Sunwing.

He has previously said it would only set up a low-cost carrier if it had the support of its employees. Partnering with a foreign partner would seem to signal a change in the airline's approach.