Flight International online news 11:30GMT: ACE Aviation Holdings has reopened talks with Boeing for Air Canada to take delivery of a new fleet of 777 aircraft in early 2007, after a dispute over pay rates was resolved by binding arbitration.

The Canadian airline could also change its widebody plans by adding leased 777s to its fleet next year instead of the planned Boeing 767s detailed in a fleet upgrade program from April.

ACE earlier this year held a tentative agreement to order 18 777s and 14 787s, with options on 64 more widebodies. However, that deal collapsed after the carrier’s pilots union rejected a new pay scale as part of an ongoing dispute over seniority.

That deal now appears to be revived.

In a third quarter analyst call detailing Air Canada parent company’s $270 million net income, chief executive Robert Milton said he spoke last night with Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Alan Mulally.

A contract has still to be signed, but Milton says he expects to take delivery of three 777s once planned for 2006 in January. “We will have six or seven [777s] in the first half of that year,” he adds.

He does not, however, say if the first three will be the 777-300ERs planned under the initial ACE tentative order.

The delivery schedule for the 14 787s from the initial order will not be changed, notes Milton.

The chief executive also says leased 777s could be added next year. While talking with the analysts, Milton said it is difficult to find the 767s proposed under its initial fleet renewal program. However, he noted: “We could go to used 777s, which are available.”

He adds: “By the fourth quarter next year we will be quite comfortable to let some [Airbus] A340s go.”

Air Canada shelved the prospective 32-aircraft order after members of the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) on June 18 rejected proposed wage and working conditions related to their introduction.

The union believes many members used the ratification vote to highlight continued dissatisfaction over the merging of pilot seniority lists during the merger of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines in 2000.

Mediation talks, announced in August, were expected to end the dispute. However, a group under the banner of ‘Former Canadian Pilots’ last month said its members would not take part in the talks.

Arbiter Martin Teplitsky said his decision provides the carrier “with the certainty required on pilot costs relating to the acquisition of new Boeing widebody aircraft”, says Brewer. 


Source: Flight International