* Canada labor minister appointed arbitrator
* Contract talks failed to produce an agreement
* Pilots’ contract expired end-March 2011
* Pilots opposed to Air Canada’s low-cost airline plan
July 30 (Reuters) - An arbitrator’s decision on the terms of a labor contract between Air Canada and its pilots union will be released later on Monday, a spokeswoman for Canadian Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said.
“We are expecting the decision today by close of business,” Raitt’s spokeswoman, Ashley Kelahear, said in an email.
Raitt appointed arbitrator Douglas Stanley to choose between contract proposals put forward by Air Canada, the country’s biggest airline, and the union for its 3,000 pilots after the two sides were unable to reach a negotiated settlement.
Since the pilots’ last contract expired on March 31, 2011, the two sides had been in on-off negotiations for more than a year.
A key issue in the talks was money-losing Air Canada’s desire to launch a separate discount airline, which it says is crucial to future profitability. The Air Canada Pilots Association strongly opposes the plan, fearing it puts pilots’ job security and benefits at risk.
The decision on the pilots’ contract follows a separate arbitrator’s ruling on June 17 on the terms of a contract between Air Canada and the union representing its 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents. That decision came down in favor of the airline’s final offer, rather than one proposed by the union.
Air Canada’s more heavily traded “B” stock was unchanged at C$1.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday morning.