Former Aveos workers represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) are expecting to see jobs grow at AJ Walter Technique, AJ Walter Aviation's new Montreal component repair and overhaul facility set to open in early 2013.

UK-based AJ Walter Aviation is setting up shop in the facility that Aveos Fleet Performance used before declaring bankruptcy on 19 March. The facility, which has been downsized about 25% from its initial configuration, will serve as AJ Walter's global maintenance headquarters with an initial focus on Airbus A320 components.

More than 280 former Aveos workers met with AJ Walter Technique management on 8 December to discuss future employment opportunities, says George Bujold, representative for IAM's District Lodge 140.

He says the union is planning for eight of its employees to find work at the MRO in early January 2013. AJ Walter says that number could grow to between 50 and 80 employees by April and total more than 100 by the end of 2013.

AJ Walter wants to open the new maintenance facility in early 2013, but the exact date will depend on several factors. Receiving an approved maintenance organisation (AMO) certificate from Transport Canada will be integral to starting up the facility, and that process is still in the works.

AJ Walter says it has made a formal application for its approval and is waiting for the department to review its operating procedures. It expects an audit process to take place in early 2013, which would lead to certification as a maintenance facility.

About 1,800 IAM-represented workers became unemployed when Aveos closed, 1,200 of which were based in Montreal. Since then, many of the IAM members have found either permanent or temporary work at other aerospace companies within Canada, says Bujold. For those who have not found stable work, he says, the new maintenance facility is a good opportunity. When AJ Walter made an offer for Aveos' component repair assets during the bankruptcy process, it outlined plans to re-hire about 200 ex-Aveos employees.

Bujold says the company has set forth a letter of intent to form a five-year labour contract with AJ Walter Technique. When the first employee is hired, the union will have eight months to ratify a collective bargaining agreement. Wages in the contract would be open for renewal three years after an agreement is forged.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news