Unions at Air Canada Call for ACE to Fund Pension Plan

    TORONTO, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - The five unions representing Air Canada workers
are calling on the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions
(OSFI) to require ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. to fund Air Canada's pension
plan, before being permitted to wind-up the holding company.
    ACE intends to seek shareholder approval for a company wind-up at a
special meeting to be held on April 7, 2009. ACE is the parent company of Air
Canada and was created in 2004 with the re-emergence of Air Canada from
bankruptcy protection.
    In a letter to OFSI, Koskie Minsky, the law firm representing the unions,
called on it to take immediate steps to ensure that Air Canada plan members
and pensioners are adequately protected.
    During the 2004 Air Canada restructuring under CCAA, Air Canada workers
made significant concessions, including extending the amortization period of
unfunded pension liabilities from five to 10 years.
    The intention at the time was to provide Air Canada with short-term cash
flow to allow the company to restructure into a profitable, and ultimately
successful airline, said Leslie Dias, president of CAW Local 2002. "There is
no way that these arrangements would have been made to if the pension plan was
not to be repaid."
    "Now, not only has ACE failed to oversee the necessary restructuring to
put the airline back on track, the company is threatening to pull out of Air
Canada when the airline is facing a major pension shortfall and huge
challenges with the faltering economy," said Dias.
    The CAW represents approximately 5,000 Air Canada workers across the
country in customer service and sales.

    Background information:

    -   ACE owns 75 per cent of Air Canada shares;
    -   Air Canada's third quarter financial statements show a loss of
        $298 million for the first nine months of 2008;
    -   In December 2008, Air Canada entered into a sale-and-lease-back loan
        with GE Capital to obtain a sum of $195 million;
    -   Days later in the Toronto Star, ACE Chair, President and CEO Robert
        Milton, on the topic of the proposed wind-up, said: "Air Canada has
        given us (ACE) the impression that they were not in need of cash;
    -   ACE Chair, President and CEO Robert Milton received $42 million in
    -   Since 2004, ACE shareholders have received $2 billion, generated from
        the sale of Air Canada group companies to outside buyers;

For further information:

For further information: For a copy of the letter submitted to OFSI or
for more information, please contact: Leslie Dias, (cell) (416) 315-2134 or
CAW Communications Shannon Devine, (cell) (416) 302-1699

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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